More than 63,000 ballots cast in first day of advance polling
NDP Leader Mackenzie Thomason among those who voted Saturday
More than 63,000 New Brunswick residents headed to the polls Saturday for the first of two days of advance voting, according to Elections New Brunswick.
In the last provincial election in 2018, just over 43,500 electors voted on the first day of advance polls.
Paul Harpelle, a communications officer with Elections New Brunswick, attributed the spike to good weather and the organization's Vote Early, Vote Safely campaign "to flatten the election curve."
Voters will have another chance to cast ballots on Tuesday between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., in advance of the Sept. 14 provincial election.
New Brunswick is the first province in Canada to head to the polls since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in mid-March.
Elections NB is encouraging people to vote early or vote by mail to avoid long lines at the polls on election day, and to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.
Janice Beers and her husband seized the opportunity to vote early on Saturday in the riding of New Maryland-Sunbury.
"We just thought it would be less contact with more people ... so we thought maybe advance poll would be the best choice," she said.
Workers greet voters at that door to polling stations and run through the typical list of public health questions. The volunteers offer masks, but they are not required.
Voters need to keep a proper physical distance and follow direction arrows once inside.
Once a ballot is processed, the tablet and pen are sanitized.
"It's different for sure," Beers said. "We're in our 70s and we've never had to do stuff like this before."
NDP leader casts ballot, but not for himself
Mackenzie Thomason, New Brunswick's NDP Leader and candidate for Fredericton North, also cast his ballot Saturday.
Thomason lives in Tracy and decided to cast his ballot for the NDP candidate, Christopher Thompson, instead of voting for himself in Fredericton North.
"I really wanted to make sure that people understood that I am committed to my community, not only the one that I'm running in and that I work in, but also the one that I live in as well," said Thomason.
Since he's already cast his ballot, Thomason will spend election day encouraging his supporters to get out and vote.
Thomason commended Elections NB for setting up polling on such a short timeline. He said he felt safe inside the polling station.
"I think the setup is quite well done."
With files from Gary Moore