Polls have closed everywhere in Canada except British Columbia and the Yukon, where polls are open until 10 p.m. ET.
Even though the polls in most of Canada are closed, official results cannot be broadcast until polls are closed across the country. The Canada Elections Act prevents broadcasting results from any electoral district where polls are closed to any electoral district where polls are still open.
The first polling stations to close were in Newfoundland at 7 p.m. ET and in Labrador and the Maritime provinces at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Residents in Newfoundland were the first to cast their ballots, beginning at 8:30 a.m. local time. Voting in Labrador and the Maritimes began a half hour later.
Voters in the key battlegrounds of Ontario and Quebec began casting their ballots at 9:30 a.m. local time, the same time polls across Nunavut and the Northwest Territories opened their doors.
Voting also got underway in Manitoba at 8:30 a.m. local time, and in Saskatchewan at 7:30 a.m.
Alberta voters began casting their ballots an hour after their counterparts in Saskatchewan. British Columbia and Yukon opened their polling stations at 7 a.m. They will close at 7 p.m. local, 10 p.m. ET.
Polling stations in each riding are open for 12 hours.
Nearly 1.5 million Canadians made their selection during three days of advance polling. A substantial number were members of Jewish communities who celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, which began on election day.
|When you can vote:|
|Time zone||Polls open (local time)|
|Newfoundland||8:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.|
|Atlantic||8:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.|
|Eastern||9:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.|
|Central||8:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.|
|Saskatchewan||7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.|
|Mountain||7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.|
|Pacific||7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.|
|Source: Elections Canada|
Earlier, party leaders who wrapped up a five-week campaign on Thanksgiving weekend had little to do except cast their own ballots.
Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe cast his vote Tuesday morning at a church in the Montreal riding of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie. He told reporters his party waged a good campaign and that he is optimistic about its chances throughout the province.
Green Leader Elizabeth May, voting at a church hall in New Glasgow, N.S., said she was confident she could unseat popular Conservative incumbent Peter MacKay in the battle for the Central Nova riding.
NDP Leader Jack Layton voted with his wife Olivia Chow in the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina, where Chow is running as the incumbent for the New Democrats. Layton said he believed his party ran a good campaign and that his message got through to voters.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, casting his ballot at a junior high school in Calgary on Tuesday morning, said he was feeling good and "had a good night's sleep."
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion voted late Tuesday afternoon in his Montreal riding of St-Laurent-Cartierville without turning to face the wall of news cameras for the traditional ballot-box photo opportunity.
As Canadians went to the polls, conditions in the financial markets improved Tuesday with the Toronto stock exchange posting a record one-day gain on news of a U.S. government plan to invest directly in banks because of the credit crisis.
Elections Canada said the number of voters casting their ballots in advance polls was slightly down from the Jan. 23, 2006, vote, but suggested it's unlikely a sign of voter apathy.
"The advance polls are not a great indicator of anything except for weather — and whether or not people believe it's going to be a good day on election day," said Election Canada spokesman Dana Doiron.
There are a total of 1,601 candidates from 19 parties vying for the 308 House of Commons seats. None of the five major parties — Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats, Bloc Québécois and Greens — are running a full slate of candidates.
Elections Canada reminds voters to bring ID
Tuesday marks the first general election in which voters must present identification at the polling stations. In terms of physical ID, voters have two choices:
- Government-issued photo ID with an address (but not a passport).
- Two pieces of ID without a photo, as long as one has your address. These can be bills, a health card or a library card.
Voters can also register by taking an oath and having another registered voter in the same polling division vouch for them under oath.
Elections Canada officials worry delays could turn some people off voting.
"It's not only an inconvenience but if it does happen on election day, it could actually — if they've left it till the last minute — mean the difference between voting and not voting," said Doiron.
Harper asked Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean to dissolve Parliament on Sept. 7, arguing that his Conservatives were unable to govern because they had reached an impasse with opposition parties.
Harper's Conservatives had the longest uninterrupted minority government in Canada's history, with two years and nearly seven months in office.
When the election was called in early September, the Conservatives held 127 seats, the Liberals had 95, the Bloc Québécois held 48, the NDP had 30 and the Greens had one (B.C. Liberal-turned-Independent MP Blair Wilson joined the Greens days before the election call). Independents held three seats and another four seats were vacant.