Advance voting in the 2010 Toronto election

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  • March 01, 2011

Did advance voting benefit any particular candidate?

Much was made in the media about the high volume of voting at advance polls — approximately double compared to previous elections. About 9.4% of all votes were cast in advance.[1] Some have speculated that this was the product of efforts by the major candidates (especially Ford) to lock in support prior to election day. Did advance polls favour any one candidate?

Table 6 suggests that Ford benefitted marginally from advance polls, receiving a higher proportion of his total vote in advance (9.7%) than Smitherman (8.9%) or Pantalone (8.4%). Separating out the data by wards that the two leading candidates won exaggerates the effect. In the 31 wards that Ford carried, he won 10% of his total vote before election day, versus 8.1% for Smitherman in the 13 wards won by him.

The picture is more complex than this, however. Smitherman’s advance poll numbers were also higher in the suburban wards won by Ford, and the reverse was true for the Ford vote in the more central wards. This suggests that while Ford’s advance vote was marginally higher than Smitherman’s, this may have at least as much to do with the preferences and needs of suburban versus central city residents than the vote-pulling efforts of the candidates.

Ultimately, it appears that advance voting did not benefit any one candidate. Each candidate pulled about the same number of advance votes as a proportion to their overall vote, suggesting that they benefited roughly equally from the surge in advance voting. More advance voting occurred in suburban wards than core wards, however, giving Ford a slight advantage. Given the geography of his support, this is more likely due to the preferences and needs of residents of lower-density suburbs than a reflection of the strength of Ford’s campaign organization.

Table 6: Proportion of votes received by each candidate cast in advance polls

Votes for:

In all wards (%)

In wards
Ford won (%)

In wards
Smitherman won (%)













All candidates




[1] Weekday advance voting was available to residents of any ward on October 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, and 13 at Toronto City Hall and the five city halls of the former Metro municipalities. Weekend voting in residents’ own wards was available on October 16 and 17.

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