If last week's advance poll numbers are any indication, White Rock residents may not be too bothered about the upcoming byelection to fill the spot left on council by the late Mary-Wade Anderson.
Last Wednesday, voters had their first crack at voting with the advanced polls and, according to chief elections officer Tracey Arthur, 136 took advantage of the opportunity.
While there was still a second opportunity for advanced polling, Arthur was unsure if this year's advanced polling numbers would exceed that of the last byelection in 2009.
"The total in 2009 was 652 for advanced polling," said Arthur.
But whatever the reason, be it voter apathy or sheer unawareness, White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin is hoping voters will realize the importance of voting before the regular polls open on Saturday.
"The patterns in White Rock and other municipalities is that roughly half the number of people come out for byelections than they do in regular elections," said Baldwin. "So for White Rock, we're looking at something like a voter turnout of 15 per cent and so that means whoever gets elected, with nine candidates running, they're probably going to have something like four or five per cent of the vote."
According to Arthur, a mere 16 per cent of eligible voters voted in the last White Rock byelection in 2009. Additionally, last year's municipal election drew just 30 per cent of eligible voters.
It's something Baldwin doesn't find terribly reassuring as he'd like to see more of White Rock's citizens take part in the process of not only voting, but finding out who would be the best person to vote for.
"I'm just afraid that the most common reasons for getting elected that way is name recognition or whoever has the most signs win and that's not a good way to elect people," he said. "I really think people have to give some serious consideration to the qualifications of the candidates and what they can bring to the table by adding to council."
As for those who may think it isn't worthwhile voting in an election that will only decide one vote on a seven-person council, Baldwin said every vote on council is hugely important.
"The person coming in can actually have quite an effect," he said. "Of all the levels of government, we're the one that affects people on a daily basis. We have to remember that council is functioning, fundamentally, like a board of directors of a multi-million dollar corporation.
"So if you value your daily services, this is something that should matter to you."
The final opportunity for advanced polling is today (Oct. 30) at the White Rock Community Centre (15154 Russell Ave.), between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Regular polls for the White Rock byelection run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3 and can be found at the White Rock Community Centre, the Kent Street Activity Centre (1475 Kent Street) and Centennial Arena (14600 North Bluff Road). Voting is open to all residents of White Rock over the age of 18 and registered voters need a piece of photo ID to vote. Those requiring registration must bring two pieces of ID, one of which must have a signature.
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