Only one-third of Liberal supporters registered to vote in leadership so far

OTTAWA – Less than a third of the almost 300,000 members and supporters who signed up to choose the Liberal party’s next leader have so far registered to vote.

With only three days left to register, just 89,000 had registered by Monday evening.

Members and supporters must register by Thursday in order to be entitled to vote.

The party boasted last week that 294,000 people had signed up over the course of the leadership contest.

Most signed up free of charge, taking advantage of the party’s new supporter class, which was intended to broaden the Liberal base and engage more than just card-carrying, dues-paying members.

While only a fraction so far have bothered to take the next step, spokeswoman Sarah Bain says the party is pleased with the number who’ve registered.

She said the party has seen “a healthy surge” in registrations as the Thursday deadline looms.

There has been some talk in Liberal circles about extending the deadline but Bain said that would be up to the party’s board and leadership committee. As far as party officials are concerned, Thursday “is a major deadline,” she added.

Regardless of how many actually end up voting, interim Liberal leader Bob Rae last week said the supporter experiment has already been a success. It’s added thousands of new names and contact information to the party’s database, which is used to tap donors, recruit volunteers and target sympathetic voters during elections.

Still, the failure to register by two-thirds of supporters thus far suggests they have little attachment to the party and may not prove to be particularly useful in future.

Justin Trudeau’s team claims to have recruited as many as 165,000 supporters and has deployed a huge volunteer force to ensure they all register. But the registration number thus far suggests even the front-runner is having trouble motivating his supporters to register, much less to actually cast ballots during the week of April 6.