Manitoba voters lining up for advanced vote marred by snowstorm

As Manitobans head to the polls for the last day of advanced voting, there are some changes to note in light of the snowstorm and subsequent power outages that affected thousands.

Elections Canada says displaced voters can still vote before Oct. 15 by special ballot

Voters in Winnipeg South packed into a polling station to mark their ballots in the final hours of the advanced voting period in the 2019 federal elections. (Submitted by Karmen Wells)

As potential voters in Manitoba head to the polls in the last few hours of advanced voting, there are some long lineups and changes to note in light of the snowstorm and subsequent power outages that affected thousands.

Much like Manitobans affected by the storm, Elections Canada had to adapt amid an official provincial state of emergency and with several First Nations, rural municipalities and the city of Winnipeg declaring local states of emergency.

"People weren't able to travel within the last few days, and now they can today, so people are showing up," Elections Canada spokesperson Marie-France Kenny said on Monday.

Some voters reported standing in line for about 40 minutes to mark a ballot at the Riverview Community Centre in the Winnipeg South Centre riding.

Hopeful voters filing into line at the Southdale Community Centre in the Saint Boniface—Saint Vital riding were also advised they would have about a 40-minute wait by Elections Canada staff.

Winnipeg South polling stations also had a trail of people waiting to vote.

Advance polls are open until 9 p.m. Monday. People who want to vote by special ballot have until 6 p.m. Tuesday. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

"The Chief Electoral Officer has authorized the closing of certain polling places in Manitoba due to power outages caused by winter conditions," said Elections Canada. Its website has a list of weather-related closures which is regularly updated.

"Before heading to a polling place, make sure it is safe to do so."

In Winnipeg, the poll which was previously located at the Robert A. Steen Community Centre at 980 Palmerston Avenue was moved to the Valour Community Centre Orioles site at 448 Burnell Street Monday.

On Sunday evening, the Robert A. Steen Community Centre was evacuated after a downed power line left live electrical lines in the parking lot.

The Saint Boniface-Saint Vital polling location at Club Eclipse '79 was moved to the Notre Dame Community Centre.

Most of the closed polls are beyond the Manitoba capital, including:

  • Four in Churchill–Keewatinook Aski.
  • Two in Dauphin–Swan River–Neepawa.
  • One in Portage–Lisgar.

As for the Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman riding, St. Martin's polling location 600 in the Rural Municipality of Grahamdale was moved from St. Martin Community Hall to the Moosehorn Community Centre.

"We're also telling people that are travelling to get supplies in Moosehorn from St. Martin to stop by and vote while they're in town," Kenny said.

Evacuated people can still vote

Kenny said people planning to vote in advance polls Monday should check the Elections Canada website to find their polling station, then call that office to make sure it's open.

She said evacuees can still vote by special ballot before Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. by calling 1-866-294-6760 or visit the website to find which office is closest.

"We still want people to be heard and voice their opinions in this election," Kenny said.

Long waits at polls during the 2015 federal elections prompted some changes this time around.

"We had extremely long lineups. Now we opened polls longer," Kenny said. "Anybody who is in a lineup [before doors close] will be allowed in the building... and all those people will be able to vote."

More than 2 million ballots were marked in the first two days of advance polls, according to Elections Canada. Kenny said that's a 25 per cent increase from the same two-day voting period in 2015.

Advance voting ahead of the Oct. 21 federal election began on Friday. Advance polls are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. until Oct. 14 at assigned polling stations.


  • A previous version of this story mentioned evacuations from Lake St. Martin First Nation forced Elections Canada to move a polling location. In fact, Elections Canada was referring to the community of St. Martin in the riding of Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman.
    Oct 14, 2019 8:43 PM CT

With files from Dana Hatherly


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