Voting in the Liberal leadership race passed the 50 per cent mark Wednesday, pulling ahead of the 49.6 voter turnout in the NDP leadership contest a year ago.
By noon Wednesday, the Liberal vote tally was 65,562 out of total of 127, 25 registered voters, according to the Liberal Party's website.
In an effort to make the voting process more transparent, the Liberal Party on Sunday began publishing the number of votes cast and the number of registered voters by province.
Officials say the numbers will continue to be updated regularly throughout the week. And with each leadership candidate making a final push to get votes, response has been over 50 per cent in each province.
The Liberal Party had faced some criticism because of the 294,000 members and supporters who were eligible to vote in this week's balloting, less than 50 per cent took the step of officially registering with the party in order to receive a voter ID and PIN number.
However, reaching the halfway point in mid-week in ballot-casting means that voter turnout will likely be much higher by the time the week ends.
In the Liberal race, voters cast ballots online or by telephone, and enter their preferential choices for each candidate, ranking them by first choice, second, third and so on. It is possible for a voter to enter only a first choice.
Each riding is worth 100 points, so that a small number of votes from a sparsely populated riding has equal weight with a large number of votes from a populous riding.
The first candidate to win 15,401 points will be the next leader of the Liberal Party.
The winner will be announced Sunday evening in Ottawa in an announcement that will also reveal the number of points each candidate garnered. Detailed results riding-by-riding will be posted on the party's website.
Voting in the NDP leadership race last year was slightly different, which may account for the lower turnout. In the NDP race, party members could vote in the days before the leadership convention, and many of them did, in a preferential choice, instant runoff ballot.
But a small number decided to vote during the NDP's televised Toronto convention, ballot by ballot. At one point, the NDP computers suffered a denial of service outage which delayed voting by many hours.
Race is almost over
The Liberal leadership race began in November and all official campaign events have finished.
The six candidates vying for the leadership of the Liberal Party are:
- MP Justin Trudeau.
- MP Joyce Murray.
- Former Toronto-area MP Martha Hall Findlay.
- Former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon.
- Toronto lawyer Deborah Coyne.
- Retired military officer Karen McCrimmon.
Trudeau, the perceived frontrunner, made a passionate plea on Saturday to restore the Liberals as a viable choice for Canadian voters, saying he would put forward an "irresistible alternative" to the Conservatives in time for the next general election in 2015.
A volunteer with the Trudeau campaign told CBC News that campaign staffers were not letting up their efforts to get people to vote.
"It's still an election and we're not taking anything for granted," said volunteer Annamaria Nunziata.
Brad Lister, a volunteer with Murray's campaign, told CBC News they are hoping to do the same and "extol the values of Joyce."
Hall Findlay, who conceded she was the "underdog" during her speech, is counting on undecided voters.
"That undecided conversation is an important one to have," Angus Rennie, a volunteer for the Hall Findlay campaign, told CBC News.
Registered voters attending Saturday's showcase were able to cast their ballots after the candidates finished their speeches, while others began voting Sunday, online or by phone.
Voters have until Sunday at 3 p.m. ET to cast a ballot. Final results are expected to be announced after 5 p.m. Sunday.
The first test for the new Liberal leader will come with a byelection in the riding of Labrador on May 13.
Liberals are hoping to regain the seat they lost to the Conservatives by 79 votes in the last federal election.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had until September to call the byelection, but chose to call it early.
Nik Nanos, president and CEO of Nanos Research, told CBC Radio's The House on Saturday that "what the Liberals lack is a regional base."
Nanos added: "Mathematically, if a party wants to win a federal election, it must have a regional base … and right now it's slim pickings."
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Success Or Flop?
The convention was successful. There were bums in seats and everything went off smoothly and relatively on time. It wasn't as brash or impressive a showcase as the NDP's convention in 2012, but it was a success.
The Bob Rae tribute video was beautifully produced and his off-the-cuff speech probably made some Liberals in the room think about what could have been if the party had selected him as leader in 2006.
Justin Trudeau. His speech was strongly delivered, showed he can attack his opponents and successfully defuse some of the criticism against him. He showed just how much better a politician he is compared to his opponents, but he still injected some of the corniness and over-performance he is known for.
Deborah Coyne. Her speech was long, fell flat and it seemed no one in the audience was rooting for her. Some people looked like they were sleeping.
Martha Hall Findlay. If she had won her seat in 2011, it may have been a different race. Hall Findlay did a convincing job of saying, without naming Trudeau, that Liberal supporters will have a tough job defending him on the doorstep during the next election and she should be their choice if they don't want to support Trudeau.
Most Surprising Development
Joyce Murray's speech was a complete flop. People who were hoping to vote for a candidate other than Justin Trudeau did not find it in Murray today. Her video was great, the endorsements she has collected are impressive, but she is a terrible politician and she showed why in the delivery of her speech.
Will It Change Anything?
It was clear from the cheers in the crowd that most of Murray's support comes from NDP supporters, Green Party members and other Canadians who are not Liberal members, so it's unclear how much her lackluster performance will impact her votes. But I think it's safe to say that she didn't mobilize any new support and Trudeau remains unchallenged.
Who Surprised The Most?
Paul Martin. He gave a really nice tribute to Bob Rae, although he went over the top with the suggestion that Rae's questioning of Stephen Harper in the House of Commons was something monumental and will one day be considered a key part of Canada’s history. Still, he, along with Rae, looked like the only statesmen/persons on stage today.
Who Could Have Done Better?
Joyce Murray should have done better. It seemed she hadn't practised her speech enough.
How Did It Compare To Last Year’s NDP Convention?
There were more impressive challengers to the-then front-runner, Thomas Mulcair, than Trudeau faced. Nathan Cullen delivered a really strong speech, although Brian Topp delivered a weak performance and Paul Dewar kept people scratching their heads with the rap in his showcase. There was more enthusiasm because NDP members could actually vote and there were three times more people -- or so the NDP claims.
Who (If Any) Emerges As Someone To Watch In The Future?
Where Does Co-operation With NDP Stand?
Absolutely nowhere. No Liberal supporters in this room had an appetite for it and the NDP doesn’t want it either.
Is Trudeau Ready For Harper And Mulcair?
He tried to suggest he was and he was by far the strongest candidate to play in their league but he still has work to do -- he still looks “junior.” But he has skills that both those men lack, notably an ability to connect with people.
Liberals vote and we’ll watch to see how many of those 127,000 registered supporters actually cast a ballot. The results will be announced April 14 in Ottawa.
Who wins next Sunday?