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Over 1.6 million voted in HST referendum

Over 1.6 million British Columbians, over 50 per cent of all registered voters, mailed in their ballots in the province-wide HST referendum, say officials from Elections BC.

That constitutes a relatively high turnout, according to Norman Ruff, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Victoria.

To put the current figures in perspective, 55 per cent of of registered voters turned out in the 2009 general election. The mail-in treaty negotiations referendum of 2002 only garnered a 36 per cent turnout rate.

But Ruff also cautions against reading too much into the overall turnout figures.

"All you can really read into any raw turnout numbers is the degree voters thought their vote actually counted for something -- and in this case worth the trouble of mailing in a ballot," wrote Ruff in an email to The Tyee. "What a high or low turnout possibly says about Yes or No support can be argued both ways."

The referendum, which lasted between June 13 and August 5, asked B.C. voters to decide whether the province should retain the harmonized sales tax introduced during the Gordon Campbell government or to revert to a combined general and provincial sales tax system.

The results of the election are scheduled to be announced on August 25.

Ben Christopher is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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