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Election notes: Stand up and be counted

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Saturday, Nov. 15 is election day across the province, with communities electing mayors, councillors, school trustees, park directors, regional district directors and other representatives. In Whistler, people will be asked to choose one of five mayoral candidates, six of 17 council candidates, two of five school trustee candidates.

The polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre, or at Rockridge Secondary School in West Vancouver.

To vote you must be 18 years of age, a Canadian citizen, a resident of B.C. for at least six months before the election, and in Whistler for at least 30 days. You can also vote if you own part or all of a property in Whistler as a non-resident property elector.

Residents must provide evidence of identity and place of residence, and at least two pieces of identification — including one piece that proves your residency (property tax assessment, utility bill, driver’s licence, insurance papers, etc.), and one piece of official I.D. with your signature.

Non-resident electors need to provide proof of ownership, and two pieces of identification. If a property is owned by more than one person, only one person may vote, and requires the written approval of a majority of co-owners.

 

Turnout trends

In Whistler’s 2005 election, there were 3,780 votes cast out of a pool of 7,111 potential voters — a turnout of 52 per cent. That was up considerably from 2002, where roughly 45 per cent of registered voters cast ballots.

 

Voting strategically

People can vote for one mayor and six councillors, but many voters are starting to think more strategically and cast fewer votes. For example, if you have a few candidates for council that you see as a priority, casting votes for any other candidates could result in those other candidates getting in rather than the people you wanted. In 2005, there were 17,863 votes for councillors on 3,780 ballots, which is an average of 4.7 votes per ballot.

 

Second homeowners staying home?

In 2005, second homeowners cast just 368 votes for mayor. If roughly 1,400 second homeowners were eligible to vote, and if all those who voted cast a vote for mayor, then turnout was about 26 per cent. Second homeowners also didn’t cast enough votes in the council races to make a difference in the outcome.

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