Advance voting sees municipal turnout at 12.5 per cent prior to election day

28,891 New Brunswickers voted in advance polls and at returning offices. (Andrew Vaughan / Canadian Press - image credit)
28,891 New Brunswickers voted in advance polls and at returning offices. (Andrew Vaughan / Canadian Press - image credit)

A good chunk of New Brunswick voters have already cast their ballots in advanced polls for Monday's slate of municipal elections.

While cities aren't voting this time around, several dozen municipalities are, including those just created as a result of the province's local government reform.

So far 28,891 New Brunswickers have cast advance ballots, including 13,903 on Nov. 19,  and 12,483 on Nov. 21. Some 2,505 voted at returning offices or with mail-in ballots before advance polls opened.

There are roughly 230,000 eligible voters according to Elections New Brunswick, which represents a turnout of about 12.5 per cent, even before election day.

Kim Poffenroth, the province's chief electoral officer, said it's difficult to draw any conclusions about what the numbers mean in this election.

"The two days were sunny, clear days in New Brunswick and people took advantage of the opportunity to get out and vote at the advance polls," said Poffenroth.

"It's really hard to say whether or not you'd like to see them higher or lower until you actually see the final numbers, [as]  people may be choosing to wait until election day to vote."

Voting trends

Determining a trend in advance voting using these numbers could be misleading because of the peculiarities around the last municipal election.

The last municipal elections were held in May 2021, when the province was still under some level of pandemic restrictions and voting by mail became more prevalent.

In 2021, a total of 60,254 people voted at advance polls, although all municipalities, including the largest cities, had elections.

This time around, not all municipalities are voting and many are new entities that didn't exist last election.

CBC
CBC

In that election, there were 576,605 eligible voters, meaning there was a turnout of 10.4 per cent.

However, if 24,315 special ballots are included, which included vote by mail and people voting at special care homes, the 2021 total was higher, with a 14.6 per cent turnout.

In 2016 the advanced voting turnout was 8.2 per cent, 10.7 per cent when special ballots were included.

Voting hotspots

Voting appears to be at a higher rate than usual for these elections and a couple of locations have stood out.

Caraquet, which includes the existing town of Caraquet, the village of Bas-Caraquet and several adjacent local service districts, saw 1,223 voters cast early ballots.

Other voting hotspots included the municipality of Grand Lake, Belle-Baie, Tantramar, Cap-Acadie and Île-de-Lamèque which all recorded over 900 votes.

Election day is Monday, Nov. 28, and while Poffenroth hopes it won't take New Brunswickers long to find out the winners, she can't say exactly when when results will be posted.

"It would purely be a guess as to when results should be available," said Poffenroth.

"I don't expect it will be a late night, with the technology we have, but it takes the time it takes. We're very much focused on doing the process correctly, not quickly."