Edmonton municipal election sees highest voter turnout since 2004
Voters dealt with long lines at polling stations around Edmonton
About 237,000 Edmontonians cast a ballot in the 2021 Edmonton election — the highest voter turnout in more than 15 years.
About 37.6 per cent of eligible voters participated in Monday's election that saw Edmontonians elect a new mayor and several new members of council. Monday's election had the highest turnout since the 2004 election that saw Stephen Mandel oust incumbent mayor Bill Smith with 41.79 per cent of eligible Edmontonians casting a vote. Voter turnout was about 31.5 per cent in the last municipal election in 2017.
The City of Edmonton had 212 polling stations operating Monday and many of them saw lineups throughout the day and into the evening.
Krista Quapp was able to cast her ballot in Ward Métis after a two-hour wait. She said she tries to vote in every election but this was the first time she can recall waiting so long.
"When I got there I saw that the arrows were quite far away from the actual building. The line just kept going on and on and on. So I joined the queue and I thought, 'Oh this might be a long night'."
While waiting in line she realized that many people had also decided to cast their vote after work.
"The people who were there were committed to getting their vote otherwise I think they would have left after a short period of time," she said. "We weren't expecting such a long wait time and the waiting outside was a little bit chilly."
Catherine Taylor was also part of the after-work crowd in line to vote in Ward Métis. She said had seen the line earlier and decided to 'let the rush' pass and head back later. When she returned the lineup was just as long.
"By the time we got here the lineup was very, very long. It curved around and so we were there from about ten after seven until about ten after nine."
Taylor said people in line were in good spirits.
"There was no complaining you know we just kind of felt bad for the election workers. The delay means they were going to stay there quite a bit longer," she said.
Edmonton Elections says some polling stations were kept open until 10 p.m. to allow those in line to vote.
Spokesperson Suzzette Mellado was unable to say if the waits may have affected voter turnout.
Edmonton Elections hired more than 3,000 election workers to fill temporary positions for Monday's vote. Additional staff were also added after the increased turnout during the advance vote period was noticed, according to Mellado.
With files from Emily Fitzpatrick