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Voter turnout high for Whistler

Mail ballots a success, but more work

Voter turnout high for Whistler

Close to 55 per cent of eligible Whistler voters cast ballots in this election, according to municipal chief elections officer Lonny Miller. That's almost 15 per cent higher than initially reported by Civic Info B.C. based on the preliminary results.

"The number of ballots and voters recorded... was just Saturday's results," said Miller. "It did not include the voters on the two advance polls and the mail-in ballots."

The total, 3,952 votes, is equivalent to a 54.8 per cent based on a voter roll of 7,206.

That's the highest voter turnout in Sea to Sky, and far higher than the provincial average of 29.51 per cent.

In 2008, the voter turnout was 2,903 and in 2005 some 3,138 voters headed to the polls.

Mail-in ballots a success, but more work

For the first time in municipal history, Whistler allowed residents and non-resident property owners to vote by mail-in ballots. The total number of mail-ins accounted for roughly 10 per cent of votes cast, with 397 mail-in ballots processed on election night. Some 410 were received, but 13 were discarded or disqualified for various reasons including improperly filled out ballots, and the fact that the voter was not qualified under provincial law. Another 14 packages were requested but were not picked up.

There was some additional work required to process the ballots, which delayed the reporting of results on Saturday night.

"Our bylaw states that we can't process envelopes or ballots until after the close of voting on general election day, which was Saturday at eight o'clock," said Miller. "It was an hour and a half processing the mail ballots and getting them ready to tally in the machines."

Many of the mail-in ballots were hand-delivered or couriered to the municipality, including packages from as far away as California and Hawaii. Some residents in the Lower Mainland brought in ballots from other non-resident property owners as well.

"We got in excess of 100 packages on Saturday at the conference centre," said Miller.


Spoiled ballots may have played a role

For the most part there were clear winners in the municipal election, with the exception of candidate Steve Anderson. Anderson finished seventh on the ballot for council with 1,037 votes, four fewer than John Grills.

There were exactly 100 spoiled ballots this time around, including the 13 mail-in ballots, 21 spoiled at advance voting polls and 66 spoiled on election day.


Voters cast ballots strategically

Many voters in the recent municipal election declined to pick the maximum number of candidates in each category to give their votes some extra weight.

According to Miller there were 4,292 undervotes for council, which on average means that voters picked five council candidates instead of six. As well, there were 54 ballots where a mayor was not selected.

For school trustee, the majority of voters only selected one candidate with 3,894 under voters.


First clean sweep in Whistler's history

This is the first time since Whistler's first council election in 1975 that no incumbents have been re-elected. At least two incumbents have been elected in each cycle.

Ted Milner received the most votes of any incumbent in 2011, placing ninth out of 25 candidates for council.

Roger McCarthy earned the most votes of any council candidate with 1,933 votes, almost 300 more than the next candidate. That's despite running an understated campaign; he missed the first two debates while inducting Whistler visionary Hugh Smythe into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame, and didn't place a single road sign. He also avoided social network debates for the most part.

Second on the list was Jack Crompton, who was the first non-incumbent to declare. He finished with 1,665 votes. Duane Jackson, who declared with McCarthy and also ran an understated campaign, placed third in 1,428.


WCCC endorsements come true?

In the run-up to the election, a group calling itself the Whistler Coalition of Concerned Citizens began to run ads and issue press releases, while keeping most of its members anonymous. Before the election they endorsed a slate of candidates that included Nancy Wilhem-Morden for mayor, Andrée Janyk, Steve Anderson, Allan Jenner, Jayson Faulkner, Roger McCarthy, John Grills, Kevin Rea and Duane Jackson.

Six out of the seven elected to Whistler council on Saturday were on this list, with the exception of Jack Crompton.


Women back on council

Since 1984 Whistler has had at least one female on council, and often two or three. That started to change in 2005 with only Nancy Wilhelm-Morden on council and in the next council, 2008 to 2011, there was no female representation.

With Wilhelm-Morden and Janyk on council, female representation is back up to about 30 per cent. That's on par with a United Nations goal - adopted by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities - of raising the level of female participation in politics to at least 30 per cent.