My Canadian friends are celebrating the Liberal landslide in last night’s election – in fact most of them are probably still asleep. From watching the coverage, I have two geographical reflections, posted from a position of ignorance, so please correct me if I am wrong. Perhaps with the bias of the British electoral system, I found it bizarre that the Canadian media were broadcasting their predicted results within minutes of the polls closing in Atlantic Canada. Nothing wrong with that you would think, except that the polls remained open in British Columbia for another four hours – such are the joys of a vast country which spans multiple time-zones. This means that those in the west knew how those in the east had voted and surely this must affect their voting habits – Liberals would stay at home thinking it a ‘done deal’ while Conservatives would be running to the polling stations to try to change the developing situation. That’s illegal in Britain – and apparently it used to be in Canada.
Second, was the process of declaring results on the basis of counts from very few polling stations within a “riding” (constituency). Hopefully using some complex algorithm, previous performance and a magic wand, candidates were declared as “elected” when only a few thousand votes has been counted from sometimes less than a quarter of the polling stations. I presume the geographical diversity of the constituencies was taken into account, and certainly the final result seemed to reflect these early estimates, so the process must have worked. I did cringe however when the presenter said xxxx was elected and then occasionalyl qualify it with “well they should be when all the votes are counted”. Interesting!