Five polling stations were removed in Nanaimo and replaced by two others. Did this have an effect? I have no doubt that it did. My focus here is the South End so I won't be going into detail with the closures in the North End (if someone else has the info I would be glad to hear it).
While most who would have went to Pauline Haarar School during the last election would go to the Conventions Centre it is unlikely that those who went to Bayview School would do the same. While some would go to Chase River School or Georgia Avenue School many of those without transportation would have abstained from going down to the Convention Centre or either of the aforementioned because of the distance. I have heard this from a number of people who just did not vote because of the distance.
Despite an increase of approximately 2000 people to the voters list for 2008 voter turnout was way down, 32.25% in 2008 compared to 35.4% in 2005. Comparison of 2005 and 2008 results of total vote for mayor, it is easier to compare turnout as one can only vote for one as opposed to a person being able to pick eight councillors, prove interesting.
2005: Baayview School = 660, Pauline Haare School =1073, for a total of 1733. Chase river School 2005 = 896, 2008 = 914, for a net increase of 18. Georgia Avenue School 2008 = 1326, 2008 =1524, for a net increase of 198 and a total increase of the two of 216. Now in 2008 with the Convention Centre as the new location we had a total of 984 votes cast. If you add the 984 with the increase of 216 from Georgia Avenue and Chase River you get a total of 1200 votes cast. This shows, albeit not conclusively, a decrease of 533 votes. This is significant and a direct correlation with the closure of Bayview and Pauline Haarer polling stations.
I know the above is complicated and if you want to do any of your own comparrisons you can find both the 2005 & 2008 total Mayoral Votes documents at the following links:
Mayoral Results 2008
Mayoral Results 2005
So what is my conclusion? Exactly that we need to have Electoral Reform and that the polling stations, especially Bayview School, should be re-opened for the next election in 2011. We should also seriously revisit the Ward System Concept as well as setting term limits for both Mayor and Council.
For another viewpoint check out the Go Nanaimo Blog.