A five-person mayor’s race and a question on the ballot helped boost Red Deer’s voter turnout to 31.83 per cent, up 7.04 percentage points from the 2010 civic election.
A total of 20,364 out of 59,942 eligible voters cast ballots at the polls across the city. That’s 5,489 more voters than three years ago.
But returning officer Frieda McDougall said there is still room for improvement. She said the tight race for the mayor’s chair, with no incumbent, and the ward system question likely sparked more interest this time around.
Tara Veer won the mayor’s job with 9,400 votes, followed by Cindy Jefferies with 7,971 votes.
Voters decidedly said no to a ward system, voting 13,315 in support of the existing at-large system compared to 5,240 in favour of the ward system.
McDougall said the better turnout caused lineups and a few hiccups at some polling stations. In order to speed things up, staff dropped the ballots into the front of the tabulator box. At the end of the day, the ballots were run through the machine, which caused counting delays.
“(Staff) followed procedure,” said McDougall. “And it all went very well. They did a really great job out in the field. But there were certainly lineups attributed to voter turnout.”
McDougall said more than 20 per cent of eligible voters turned out to the majority of the polling stations across the city.
She said the turnout varied depending on where people lived. Residents in the Bower neighbourhood flocked to the polls and had the highest turnout with 536 out of 1,159 eligible voters, or 46 per cent turn. In Glendale, 429 out of 2,195 eligible voters turned out, or slightly under 17 per cent.
The full results will be released and made official on Friday at noon.