Advance polls: long waits and a protest clown

The first day of advance polling in the federal election did not go smoothly for some Montreal voters.

Voters endure long waits at some polling stations, one man votes in a clown mask

There were long waits reported at the polling station at 2545 Cavendish Boulevard. (CBC News)

The first day of advance polling did not go smoothly for some Montreal voters.

Reports of long lines with waiting times as long as two hours trickled in as the day went on.

One advance polling station in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce was especially problematic, with voters saying only a single voting booth was open, and there weren't enough seats for those waiting — many of whom were seniors.

"There were over 100 people waiting," said Moira Carley, an NDG resident, who showed up to cast an advance ballot at the station at 2545 Cavendish Boulevard. "The hallway where people were waiting was dark, and there were not enough chairs."

When she learned the waiting time — one and a half hours at the time she went — Carley left without voting, as she had to leave on a business trip.

Voters said that officials gave out numbered tickets so those waiting could leave and come back when their turn came.

"I've been waiting an hour and a half now," said Joan Decarie, at the same polling station. She said she votes during advanced polling every election. "It's supposed to save time ... It takes me 10, 15, 20 minutes at the most."

A few covered faces 

Some voters also used the day to call attention to the niqab debate that has dominated much of the election to date. One man from Dorval showed up to vote in a clown costume and claimed he was able to vote without removing his mask. He said an officer asked him to take an oath to confirm his identity.

"Truly sad that I can vote to elect a Canadian prime minister without having to show my face and prove my identity," said Rafik Hanna.

Rafik Hanna cast a ballot dressed as a clown to express his disappointment with voting laws. (Courtesy of Rafik Hanna)

One woman showed up at a polling station in Cap-Rouge, near Quebec City, wearing a potato sack on her head. It was later confirmed that she was able to cast her ballot after swearing an oath.

One woman showed up to vote wearing a potato sack over her head in Cap-Rouge, near Quebec City. She was allowed to cast a ballot, after taking an oath to confirm her identity.

And in Gatineau, a man showed up to vote at the Centre Communautaire Le Baron dressed as a ghost. But rather than take an oath, he said he showed his face to confirm his identity.

A man who decline to give his name showed up to vote in Gatineau dressed as a ghost. (CBC News)

As the day progressed, social media groups emerged urging voters to wear masks at the ballot as a form of protest. Few of them had more than 105 Facebook likes, so it appears they did not get much traction. However, the photo of one man who claimed to vote while veiled by the Quebec flag was shared widely.

The photo appeared on the Facebook page of Pegida Canada, an anti-Muslim group.

This picture of a man who claimed to have voted with this face covered was shared on social media. (Facebook)

Confusion at Concordia

Voters hoping to cast a ballot at the downtown campus polling station at Concordia University's J.W. McConnell Building were turned away from advance polls on Friday, unless they were able to show that they live in the riding of Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-Sœurs.

Earlier in the week, Elections Canada had set up a pop-up electoral office there, at which students were allowed to cast ballots in any riding in which they were eligible to vote. However, those pop-up electoral offices closed on Thursday.

That sowed a lot of confusion among out-of-riding voters.

Concordia spokeswoman Fiona Downey said in a statement the university had been given "erroneous information" by Elections Canada.

Out-of-riding voters may still vote by special ballot until Tuesday, Oct. 13. at the Elections Canada office at 555 René-Lévesque Boulevard West in Montreal – or at any Elections Canada office.


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