After four and a half months, Elections Canada has released the poll-by-poll election results necessary to calculate which competing community had the greatest increase in voter turnout between the 2011 and 2015 federal elections.
Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak challenged other Kootenay municipalities to the Kootenay Community Voter Challenge, a friendly contest to see what municipality had the largest voter turnout increase when comparing voter turnout between the 2011 and 2016 federal election years.
The winner is the City of Rossland, who had a voter turnout of 81 per cent - an increase of 12.7 per cent from the 2011 federal election.
The municipality with the largest voter turnout was the Village of Slocan who had 84 per cent. Those two communities had a voter turnout of over 80 per cent participation.
While there was only one winner, there was evidence of how incredibly well-engaged the Kootenay region is in the democratic process, outshining not only national and provincial turnout levels, but even cities across the whole Southern Interior.
Fernie had a seven per cent higher voter turnout than the national average at 75 per cent participation, with 3,043 citizens voting out of the 4,044 registered voters. This marked an 11.5 per cent increase in voter turnout from the 2011 election.
Compared to the other competing ridings, Fernie tied for fifth in voter turnout with Nelson. Fernie’s turnout percentage met the average for the competing ridings at 75 per cent.
For increased voter turnout Fernie finished sixth. This category saw a close finish with just a 1.2 per cent difference between Rossland – who came first – and Fernie.
Mike Chapman, the Nelson resident who came up with the idea, sent out a press release congratulating the City of Nelson and commending all the municipalities that took up the friendly competition.
“The organizers - together with the City of Nelson who initiated the Challenge – congratulate the City of Rossland, as well as the Village of Slocan who topped the voter turnout with 84 per cent,” said Chapman. “We also salute all participating communities - their willingness and efforts to engage their citizens, to invite and include them in the democratic process, and to let them share in the pride of having provided an example to the rest of the country, is deserving of huge respect.”