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Voter turnout up in Richmond municipal elections

The turnout rate for the 2018 Richmond municipal elections was the highest since 1993, and three per cent higher than 2014.

The turnout rate for the 2018 Richmond municipal elections was the highest since 1993, and three per cent higher than 2014.

Richmond had a population of 198,309 in the 2016 census, and of this 132,819 were estimated to be eligible voters, according to CivicInfoBC data.

This year, a total of 45,873 ballots were cast in the city, representing 35 per cent of all eligible voters.

This is an increase of 5,628 from 2014, when the turnout rate was 32 per cent. Only 23 per cent turned up for the 2011 elections.

Richmond’s turnout has beaten those for major cities such as Burnaby (33%), Surrey (32%) and North Vancouver (27%), trailing West Vancouver (38%) and Vancouver (39%).

“We are pleased that we had a little bit of increased turnout, but of course we’d always like to see numbers even higher,” said Ted Townsend, spokesperson for the City of Richmond.

Greg Halsey-Brandt, mayor of Richmond from 1990 to 2001 and political commentator, said he believes a few controversial issues discussed in Richmond got more people out voting.

“It’s definitely an uptrend,” said Halsey-Brandt.

“I think the SOGI issue got more people out (to vote) for the school board, the ‘mega houses’ on agricultural land reserve and issues of affordable housing all got more people out voting for council.

“And more immigrants from Asia are here for longer; more have become Canadian citizens, so more and more of them can vote. It’s a lot of people.”

He added that contentious mayor races in cities such as Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby made more people aware of the municipal elections, which helped contribute to Richmond’s better turnout this time.

Records were also set on the numbers of votes the mayor and councillors received in Richmond elections.

Incumbent Mayor Malcolm Brodie received 30,452 votes this year, which is 10 per cent more compared to last time (27,149) and 64 per cent of this year’s total votes.

Incumbent councillor Carol Day topped the chart with 20,871 votes, which is 3,454 more than the largest number of votes received in 2014 by Councillor Bill McNulty.

Incumbent Alexa Loo, who ranked the eighth in both 2014 and 2018, had 617 more votes this time.

Meanwhile, advance voting numbers this year in Richmond were up about 23 per cent compared to 2014, with almost 9,000 votes cast in the first seven days of advance voting.

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