Provincial elections could undergo a dramatic change if a referendum on proportional representation passes next fall.(Black Press files)

Millennials’ voter turnout in 2017 B.C. election up 7%

The 2017 election cost $4.6 million more than the prior one

B.C.’s millennials had the biggest voter turnout increase in the 2017 provincial election, even though they still had the lowest percentage of voters coming out to the polls of any age group.

According to an Elections BC report released Monday, nearly seven per cent more 25-34 year olds voted in 2017 compared to 2013.

The 39.8 per cent of millennials who voted last year were still outstripped by the 18-24 year olds (Generation Z) with 47.9 per cent, as well as all older voters.

General turnout also went up with 61.2 per cent of eligible B.C. voters casting a ballot, compared to 57.1 per cent in 2013.

Increased turnout in turn led to an increased cost; at $39.5 million, the 2017 election cost $4.6 million more than the prior one.

Cost per voter also went up from $10.96 to $12.15 – an 11 per cent increase.

However, once the $1.6 million cost of implementing the new 2015 electoral area boundaries is accounted for, cost per voter increased by only nine per cent.

Elections BC spokesperson Andrew Watson said that the jump from 85 to 87 electoral districts contributed to higher 2017 costs.

Much of the increased cost could be attributed to salaries, which jumped from approximately $1.9 million in 2013 to $3 million in 2017 and a $3.1 million increase in ‘information system’ costs, from $1.7 million to $4.8 million.

Watson said that two extra advanced voting days led to an increase in staffing and that some elections officials received “modest pay increases.”

It its report, Elections BC said that it launched a redesigned mobile-optimized website for the 2017 election. The money paid off; 23 per cent more people visited the site on their phones and tablets compared with last year.

The agency also supplied its staff with tablets in lieu of binders for voter registration, noting that the new technology increased the speed of voter registration by 30 per cent and cut down on absentee ballets set aside due to staff errors from 6.9 per cent in 2013 to one per cent in 2013.

“Technology was introduced into the voting place, providing the ability to maintain electronic records of participation at advance voting (to meet legislated requirements), and to print labels for certification envelopes,” said Watson.

“Our business plan calls for the re-use of this equipment through events leading up to but not including the 43rd general election, scheduled for 2025.”


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