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Nov. 15, 2019 | Friday
Local News
Long lines for advanced polling
Margaret Walker waits to cast her vote on Friday during advanced polls for the federal election. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Lines were long at the NOTL Community Centre Friday morning when the advance voting polls opened, and though Margaret Walker waited more than half an hour to cast her vote, she said it was well worth the delay.

“We have to wait, but we’re very privileged to get to vote,” she said while standing in line.

Early voting took place from Friday to Monday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., to give people ample opportunity to cast ballots in this year’s federal election.

Elections Canada media relations officer Nathalie de Montigny said this was the first year advance polls were open for 12 hours, four days in a row.

During the four days of advanced polls this year, she said approximately 4.7 million Canadians voted across the country. Those preliminary numbers don’t include electors who voted in local offices, on campus, in additional service points, or by special ballot.

“This increase shows that more and more Canadians are taking advantage of early voting opportunities to cast their ballots,” de Montigny said in an email.

In 2011, advanced polls saw about 2.1 million voters and in 2015 about 3.65 million, both for all four days.

While there was only one voting booth at each of the three NOTL voting stations this year which caused long wait times, de Montigny said there were more voting stations overall. In the Niagara Falls riding the number of stations increased to 22 from 16 during the previous election.

She also said the advanced voting process was made easier.

“We are seeing a trend that more and more Canadians are voting early,” she said.

Whereas in previous elections there was an added step of signing a document before voting during the advanced polling, this year the process was identical to a regular election day.

“For us it’s a good story, because people are going out to vote. At the same time, we cannot control when they go vote. Sometimes it does happen, unfortunately, that there could be more people showing up to the polls at the same time,” de Montigny said.

While Walker was content waiting to exercise her right to vote, some residents in line thought there should have been more voting stations set up to expedite the process.

John Thornburg said that there should have been more, especially because this is a federal election.

“It doesn’t make any sense there’s only one station,” he said.

He said he would continue to wait, though, because he said he would be out of town on Oct. 21 during the official vote.

And though many were unhappy but still decided to stay and wait, others decided to leave the line and try again another day.

Donna Ricardo was bringing her grandson to the library and decided to swing over to vote at the same time. But after discovering she would need to spend almost 45 minutes waiting in line, she said she would come back another time.

“I’m not waiting in line that long today, we’ll just come back,” she said.

Though lines were long for the first few hours on Friday morning, they did tend to ease up into the evening. On Sunday at 6 p.m., there were only two people waiting to vote and they were in and out within 10 minutes.

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