New estimated figures from Elections BC peg the number of registered voters in 2020 at 54.4 per cent. (Black Press Media File)

New estimated figures from Elections BC peg the number of registered voters in 2020 at 54.4 per cent. (Black Press Media File)

2020 provincial election sets historical low turnout

Just over 1.9 million registered voters cast ballots in 2020

New estimated figures from Elections BC show the last provincial election may end up setting a new historical low for turnout as 54.5 per cent of registered voters cast ballots.

An earlier estimate had pegged turnout at 52.4 per cent. This said, officials point out that the updated figure of 54.5 per cent does not include voters who had registered on general election day, Oct. 24.

In 2017, the corresponding figure was 61.18 per cent.

Looking back, the lowest turnout among registered voters before 2020 occurred in 2009, when 55.14 of registered voters cast ballots. That figure gets even worse when looking at the number of eligible voters. In 2009, 50.99 of eligible voters cast ballots. Elections BC did not differentiate between turnout among eligible voters and registered voters until 1983.

Notably, that year was also the year when B.C. set historical records for both turnout among registered voters (77.66 per cent) and eligible voters (70.5 per cent) with available records dating back to 1928.

The last provincial election will likely go down as one of the most historic in the province by virtue of its outcome with the New Democratic Party securing their largest majority ever and under the circumstances which it happened as the COVID-19 pandemic sparked an unprecedented change in how British Columbians voted.

RELATED: Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

While 0.3 per cent of voters had cast their ballots by mail in 2017, that share rose to 31.4 per cent in 2020. This historic spike coincided with a corresponding decline in voting by person on general election day. Whereas 60.8 per cent of registered voters cast their ballots on general election day in 2017, the corresponding share for 2020 was 28.8 per cent. The 2020 election, however, confirmed a growing trend toward advanced voting, rising from 30.2 per cent in 2017 to 35.4 per cent in 2020.

Looking at the raw numbers, almost exactly 1.9 million British Columbians voted in the last provincial election, almost exactly 86,000 fewer than 2017. While the 2020 figure marks the second-highest total in provincial history, the real story appears to be the on-going decline in turnout, even as the provincial population continues to grow.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

North Saanich is giving local businesses a break by waving renewal fees for 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich waives business renewal fees for 2021

The municipality raised $48,000 from businesses licences in 2020

The Sooke school district has filled all spots for their French immersion and nature kinderagarten programs in 2021-2022 school year. Regular kindergarten registration is still open and available. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke school district gets surplus of nature, French immersion kindergarten applications

Not enough room for almost half of nature kindergarten applicants

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read