PEI·PEI Votes

Voter turnout not affected by threat at Stratford polling station, says Elections P.E.I.

Elections P.E.I. says a threat to a Stratford polling station did not affect voter turnout.

'We're really happy with how the voters were able to turn out'

RCMP blocked off entrances to the polling station while investigating the threat. (John Robertson/CBC)

Elections P.E.I. says a threat that shut down a Stratford polling station for a few hours didn't affect voter turnout. 

"It doesn't seem to have really made an impact at all, " said Tim Garrity, chief electoral officer.

Garrity said about 80 per cent of voters did come out to vote in that district. 

"We're really happy with how the voters were able to turn out," he said. 

We thought initially since the polls were closed for approximately two hours that it would be fair to keep them open for two hours.— Tim Garrity, Elections P.E.I.

The poll for Stratford-Keppoch, at the Assumption Parish Centre on Stratford Road, was closed from around 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. after the a written note was found with a threat, that turned out to be unsubstantiated.

Voters could not go inside while RCMP and a police dog were brought in. 

The poll did stay open until 7:30 p.m. to allow voters a bit of extra time. 

"The extra half-hour was enough time for them to be able to get out to vote," said Garrity

Only short extension needed 

Garrity said at first they did look at a longer extension but later determined it wasn't needed since mid-afternoon was a slower time and elector numbers were strong, even with the interruption. 

"We thought initially since the polls were closed for approximately two hours that it would be fair to keep them open for two hours," said Garrity.

"With the turnout being the way it was, over 80 per cent, I think we made the right decision." 

Chief electoral officer Tim Garrity says turnout was on-par with other years. (Laura Meader/CBC )

He also pointed out if the poll had stayed open until 9 p.m. election results from all polls would have been delayed, and no results could have been released as it would be unfair to voters.

"We would have had to delay everything," he said. "We wouldn't have been able to release any results." 

Investigation continues

Sgt. Leanne Butler, with Queens RCMP, said the major crime section is still investigating.

"We are following up, we are working on it," said Butler. "We have to take any threat to the public seriously." 

She said RCMP is interviewing people and the forensic identification section is looking at evidence.

"They will be looking at the time period of the vote and try to establish who was there and do some interviews, that sort of thing," she said.

Butler said it was fortunate a police service dog was able to determine there were no explosive materials on site.

"We deemed it safe at that time," she said. 

RCMP are asking anyone with information about the threat to contact them. 

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