I noticed this in 2009, there was a serious shortage of active volunteers on most serious political campaigns in BC. I think it is one of the reasons we had a lower voter turn out in 2009 than 2005 as well as lower than the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. In 2013 this lack of volunteers is utterly beyond anything I would have imagined. This is not with any one party but across the political spectrum.
I have been around campaigning for many years and a rule of thumb I have used is aiming for between 0.05% and 0.1% of the people in riding as volunteers. That means provincially I would want a campaign to have around 300 active volunteers. Some would dedicate their whole life, others only a few hours Burma shaving, but overall a few hundred people. Certainly this is the scale you need to knock on every door, call all the voters and make sure your people are voting. In this election this is not happening.
I have asked around my contacts throughout the province and no one has seen what I would call a fully staffed campaign. People are not choosing to become active in political campaigns and that is very bad for society. The division between the people and the politicians is already bad enough, this is only making it worse.
The NDP and Liberals are clearly no longer grass roots organizations that are interested in the average public, I am not sure either one can reform themselves enough to regain enough public trust that they could have the volunteers needed to properly campaign.
The Greens and BC Conservatives do show some sparks of life when it comes to connecting with people and getting the public active, but neither party is well enough organized at this time for me to know if they can be a truly grassroots party.
This lack of volunteers will be one of the primary reasons why overall voter turn out will be down again in this election. It means that a party or candidate that can get a team of 300 people together in 2017 will have a huge advantage and may be able to win in locations that people otherwise would have thought are safe seats. With out a strong core of volunteers, there is no such thing as a safe seat.