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Election 2013: The race to represent

Five candidates, four weeks. The provincial election is coming to an end and on May 14 voters will choose the new MLA for West Vancouver-Sea to Sky.



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A little Sea to Sky context

As MLA, McIntyre spent $121,348 in the campaign to gain the 10,101 votes that won her the 2009 election. In the same race, the NDP's Juliana Buitenhuis spent $7,982, one-fifteenth of McIntyre's amount, and took second place with 4,214 votes. The 2009 Green candidate, Jim Stephenson, spent $16,217 and gained 4,082 votes, coming third.

With 18,527 votes cast (130 ballots spoiled), this meant 53.07 per cent of potential voters took part in 2009.

The 2013 numbers, both in terms of votes and of money spent, are yet to be determined.

Turnout has continually dropped in the four elections since 1996. In 2005, the election which brought McIntyre into the legislature, turnout was 61.57 per cent; this is a drop from 69.19 per cent in 2001 — the year the BC Liberals came to power; 73.03 per cent voted in 1996, the last time New Democratic Party won. If the polls are to be believed, they are poised to win this provincial election, too.

Interestingly, in 1991 78.6 per cent or 19,419 voters elected Liberal David J. Mitchell to represent them. That's about 892 more votes for the winning candidate in 1991 than in 2009. If you care about voter participation, a drop of roughly 25.5 per cent in 22 years makes grim reading.

Gord Addison, the campaign manager for Jordan Sturdy, believes this may come from the difficulty in maintaining up-to-date voters' lists, particularly after changes to voter enumeration in the early 1990s. Another issue, he says, is that because the riding only has part of West Vancouver in it, census information is not useful.

Hanging out with the candidates

Spending time with Sturdy, McLeod, Warrington, Santos and Johnson as they stump around West Vancouver-Sea to Sky and one thing is apparent, a riding is won house by house, block by block, meet-and-greet by meet-and-greet.

Speaking to voters in groups of 10 and 20, talking to one or two in homes and businesses is key; personalize the election and party platform process in order to be relatable, accessible and convincing.

It was with this in mind that I spent time with the candidates as they did the hard legwork.