ballot box

Countdown on for Houston municipal elections

But voting participation is slipping, analysis reveals

Houston voters have the opportunity today, Oct. 5, to vote in the District of Houston council elections if they cannot make it to the polls on general election day which is Oct. 15.

An advanced poll is taking place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today at the District of Houston municipal offices at 3667 12th Street.

To be eligible to vote, a person must be at least 18 years of age as of general election day on Oct. 15, be a Canadian citizen and have lived in B.C. for six months prior to registering to vote and a resident of Houston as of the day they register to vote.

There are no pre-registration requirements and registering can take place at the polls.

Voters must show two pieces of ID, with one having a signature on it. The ID must show residency and identity. Picture ID is not necessary.

People who own property within the District of Houston but are non-resident can also vote but with the added requirement to show proof they can vote in relation to the property.

The Houston Community Hall is the local for general voting day Oct. 15 and the polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

There are seven candidates for the six District of Houston council seats.

But there is no vote for mayor because incumbent mayor Shane Brienen was the only one to file nomination papers. He will be mayor again by acclamation.

An analysis of recent civic voting in Houston indicates that without a mayor’s race, people are less inclined to make a trip to the polls.

In the 2008, 2011 and 2014 municipal elections, voter turnout was higher locally than the provincial average.

Turnout in 2008, when there was a mayor’s race was 39.1 per cent, markedly higher than the provincial average of 28.9 per cent. Of note, each of the six council members was returned by acclamation.

There was a race for both mayor and council in the next election year of 2011 with the voter turnout running at 35.8 per cent, just over the provincial average of 30.6 per cent.

Houston’s voting record compared to the rest of the province held fairly firm in 2014 with both a mayor’s race and a council race, resulting in a 38.8 per cent turnout. Again, that was higher than the provincial average of 34.5 per cent.

But turnout slipped four years ago when municipal elections were last held. While there was a council race, Brienen was returned for a second term by acclamation.

Just 28 per cent of eligible Houston voters turned out to the polls, significantly less than the provincial average of 35 per cent.

And when it comes to council members seeking re-election other than 2008, when the entire six-member council was returned by acclamation, the percentage of successful incumbents has been less than the provincial average.