Advance poll numbers on the rise

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is part of a national trend that saw a big increase in ballots cast at advanced polls over the weekend.

Elections Canada spokesperson Karen Janigan said there were 5,300 votes cast at several advanced polls across the riding over three days. The Elections Canada website has the number at just over 8,600, but Janigan said a calculation error has the number higher than it should be.

"We're not exactly sure what the count is. We believe that when someone called in the results they may have reported two days results in one day," Janigan said. "We believe there were 3,300 extra votes in there that shouldn't be there. The number is closer to 5,300."

Elections Canada says the numbers are preliminary estimates based on numbers reported by returning officers. They are not final until the votes are counted on election day and validated by the returning officers.

In the 2009 byelection that saw Conservative Scott Armstrong defeat five other candidates to replace retiring MP Bill Casey, there were 3,409 ballots cast in the advanced polls while in 2008, in which Casey ran and won as an Independent, there were 3,726 ballots in the advanced polls.

Provincially, the numbers are up by 68 per cent from the 2008 federal election with about 63,000 votes cast on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, compared to 37,782 three years ago.

Voter turnout is up by 34 per cent nationally.

Janigan is not sure why the numbers have increased, but stressed Elections Canada is adding to the number of advanced polls in order to encourage those who can't vote on election day to cast their ballots earlier.

"We have increased the number of advanced polls to 4,700 this year across the country. That's almost 700 higher than last time," Janigan said. "We're finding more people wanting to vote in the advance polls."

Janigan said it would be premature to say a higher turnout at the advance polls will translate into a higher turnout on election day. At 58.8 per cent in 2008, voter turnout in Canada hit an all-time low.

Nova Scotia advanced poll numbers

Cape Breton-Canso: 3,646

Central Nova: 4,810

Dartmouth-Cole Harbour: 7,155

Halifax: 7,048

Halifax West: 7,447

Kings-Hants: 5,233

Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley: 5,300

Sackville-Eastern Shore: 5,780

South Shore-St. Margaret's: 4,424

Sydney-Victoria: 6,864

West Nova: 5,012

Advance Polls

2011: 2.06 million

2008: 1.53 million

2006: 1.56 million

2004: 1.25 million

2000: 775,157

1997: 704,000

Organizations: Elections Canada

Geographic location: Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Canada, Nova Scotia Cape Breton Canso Halifax West Sackville-Eastern South Shore

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