11/13/2014 03:13 EST | Updated 01/13/2015 05:59 EST

Vancouver advance voting shows record turnout in civic election

Advance voting in the Vancouver civic election has hit record highs.

Figures released Thursday show early ballots cast before Saturday's election are up 98 per cent over the 2011 figures.

At the close of advance voting Wednesday night, 38,556 ballots were cast, compared with 19,484 advance ballots cast in 2011.

Turning out the vote

Voter turnout was a point of discussion in CBC's mayoral debate on Wednesday. With only 35 per cent of the electorate casting votes in 2011, the candidates were asked how they would encourage people to turn out this time.

COPE candidate Meena Wong called on voters to corral 10 other people to join them in heading out to a ballot station.

Kirk LaPointe (NPA) claimed the democratic system in Vancouver is dysfunctional and said voters feel ignored. He argued that gap needed to be narrowed by building a more open City Hall, providing voters with more information.

'A close election'

The incumbent, Gregor Robertson, surprised everyone by making an aggressive pitch to anyone considering voting for COPE, to instead vote Vision. After the debate, Robertson acknowledged he is concerned about losing "progressive" voters to COPE.

"Certainly, it's a close election. I think it's just important people understand what's at stake, and they understand that I'm owning some of the mistakes that I've made," he said.