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federal election 2015

Voters leave a polling station after voting in Edmonton on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

A long, tightly-fought federal election campaign has resulted in the highest voter turnout in almost a quarter of a century, recalling the last time the Liberals were carried back to power by a nationwide desire for political change in Ottawa.

The last time Canadians were as eager to go to the polls was 22 years ago, when more than 70 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots, ending nearly a decade of Progressive Conservative government and handing Jean Chrétien's Liberals a landslide victory in 1993.

Preliminary figures in this year's election show that more than 68 per cent of eligible electors voted.

Full coverage of Federal Election 2015

The figures will likely inch up further because they don't include voters who registered on election day.

Turnouts in the 2011 and 2008 elections were respectively 61.1 and 58.8 per cent.

Compared to the 2011 vote, over 2.7 million more Canadians cast ballots this fall, even though the number of eligible voters had only increased by 1.4 million, to 17.6 million registered electors.

Voters showed up in greater numbers than in 2011 in every province and territory.

This happened despite tighter rules making it more difficult for Canadian expats to vote, new ID requirements at polling stations, and reports that two polling stations in First Nation communities ran out of ballots.

There had been concerns that voters in the West Coast might be less motivated because results were not blacked out, meaning that polling stations in British Columbia were still open as news of the Liberals' sweep over the Atlantic provinces already emerged.

However, turnout in B.C. was 70.36 per cent, nearly a 10-point increase from the previous federal vote and higher than in provinces such as Alberta, Ontario or Quebec.

The largest increase in voting was seen in Nunavut, with more than a 16-point increase (from a low of 45.7 per cent in 2011) and Alberta, where participation rose from 55.8 per cent to 69.11 per cent this year.

Prince Edward Island, which always has high turnouts, was again the place with the highest voting rate – 77.42 per cent – while Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest voter participation, with 61.5 per cent.

The spike in voter turnout was expected as 3.6 million people Canadians had gone to the advance polls during the Thanksgiving weekend, a 71 per cent increase compared to the turnout in the past election's early voting window.

On social media, sports fans were already noting that the last time voting turnout was this high, the Blue Jays won their second World Series in 1993.

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