British Columbia

Long wait times frustrate voters at some election sites in B.C.

People in Prince George, B.C., have been waiting up to 90 minutes to vote, in part due to a shortage of workers at election sites.

People in Prince George waiting up to 90 minutes to vote

Voters line up outside Trinity United Church on Sept. 13. People wanting to cast a ballot were waiting between 45 and 90 minutes at some sites. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Long lines have proved frustrating for voters hoping to cast their ballots early in Prince George, B.C.

Over four days of advanced voting, people at two different polling stations have reported wait times of between 45 and 90 minutes.

Melissa Iverson showed up at the Hart Pioneer Centre Friday afternoon and started timing herself to prove to a friend how easy voting can be.

"I was going to be like, 'Hey, it only takes a few minutes,'" she said. "And I ended up waiting about an hour."

Iverson said workers at the election site told her the snap election was a contributing factor to the wait times, as they had been unable to recruit as many people to work at polling stations as they would have liked. Multiple workers who spoke to a CBC reporter said the same.

Additionally, schools — which are normally used as polling stations — were unavailable, so smaller buildings with less room to set up voting tables are being used, further contributing to bottlenecks.

Melissa Iverson says it normally takes her five to 10 minutes to vote, but this year she waited for an hour. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

The problems weren't occurring at all stations — elsewhere in the city people were reporting waits of between five and 10 minutes.

Issues at the Hart Pioneer Centre, which is in the Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies riding, appeared to have cleared up by Monday.

However, long wait times were still being reported at Trinity United Church, which is being used as a polling station for the riding of Cariboo-Prince George.

People were being told to expect waits of up to an hour early Monday afternoon and delays of 70 to 90 minutes were recorded over the weekend.

Among those in line Monday was Tiffany Lamoureux, who said she'd driven by the church nine times over the weekend in the hopes of finding a lull before finally deciding to wait — along with her young baby.

"I've never seen a lineup like this for early voting," Lamoreaux said, adding the line was discouraging other people from taking part in advance polling. "I've seen lots of people drive up, slow down, and keep driving."

Iverson said she was concerned that the delays might discourage people from voting at all, while others expressed concerns about elderly people waiting for long periods outside.

"I think for people who have to deal with difficult work schedules and who have small children, to have to spend an hour waiting in line, that would be impossible," Iverson said.

Elections Canada spokesperson Andrea Marantz said she was aware of reports of long lines at some polling stations throughout British Columbia and adjustments would be made to try to facilitate shorter wait times based on feedback from individual polls.

In a tweet, Elections Canada said advanced voter turnout has exceeded expectations as more people try to vote early.

The organization is also encouraging people to submit feedback on their voting experience using its online contact form.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Kurjata

CBC Prince George | @akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is an award-winning journalist covering Northern British Columbia for CBC Radio and cbc.ca, situated in unceded Lheidli T'enneh territory in Prince George. You can email him at andrew.kurjata@cbc.ca. You can also send encrypted messages using Signal to 250.552.2058.

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