Fewer voting locations in next election, says Elections PEI

Elections P.E.I. says the number of places to vote during the next provincial election will be reduced because new technology is making voting faster and more efficient.

'You're certainly not going to have to travel any great distances'

Elections P.E.I. says the number of voting stations has not yet been determined. (CBC)

There will be fewer voting locations in the next provincial election, but the exact number is not yet known, according to Elections P.E.I.

"There will be a reduction in some polling locations," said Paul Alan, manager of operations and communications at Elections P.E.I.

"We don't want to disenfranchise anybody from voting ... you're certainly not going to have to travel any great distances."

We have the technology

Most of the reductions will take place in urban districts, according to Alan. In some there will be just one place to vote, down from as many as four or five locations last time.

'There will be multiple polling locations,' outside urban areas, says Elections P.E.I.'s Paul Alan. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

New technology including online registration is making voting faster and more efficient, Alan said. In recent elections, surveys of voters showed most wait times under five minutes.

"Outside the cities you're challenged by the geographic size of the district, so there will be multiple polling locations. At this point we can't say how many there will be, because it's kind of a hard thing to judge," said Alan.

'Reducing Islanders' ability'

Steven Myers, the MLA for District 2: Georgetown - St. Peters says he is hearing concerns from constituents.

Bar codes on voter registration forms are among the innovations that make voting faster and more efficient says Elections P.E.I. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"If it's a matter of money, government should come to the plate with more money so they can properly fund this," said Myers. "If it's not a matter of money then I think they need to explain to Islanders why they're reducing Islanders' ability to get out and vote."

Voters have options including mail-in ballots and advance polls. And having just one place to vote is nothing new, according to Alan. There's always been just one advance polling location in each district, for example.

"And in 2015, 40 per cent of Islanders voted in advance," he said.

Elections P.E.I. is also dealing with new boundary changes which will require changes in where people go to vote. Alan said they won't know the exact number of voting places until after the election date is announced and they can start booking spaces.

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