Toronto

Advance voter turnout jumps almost 19% from last Ontario election

Hundreds of thousands of Ontario voters aren't waiting around to cast their ballot in this year's hotly-contested election, according to preliminary figures released by Elections Ontario.

Estimated 768,895 cast ballots at advance polls, with technology reportedly making it easier

A sign directs voters to a polling station in downtown Toronto. Voter turnout for advance polls in the Ontario election was higher this year than four years ago, according to preliminary figures released this week from Elections Ontario. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Hundreds of thousands of Ontario voters aren't waiting around to cast their ballot in this year's hotly-contested election, according to preliminary figures released by Elections Ontario.

About 768,895 of 10.2 million eligible voters cast ballots at advance polls between May 26 and June 1, Elections Ontario reports. That's an 18.8 per cent increase from 2014, when an estimated 647,261 voters turned up at advance polls. 

Advance polls are now closed. But eligible voters who can't cast a ballot on June 7 still have the option of voting by special ballot at a returning office or through a home visit until Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET.

Elections Ontario, an independent office of the Ontario legislature that's set to spend $126 million to run the 2018 vote, says new technology made advance voting easier this time around.

"We are very pleased with the positive feedback we have received across the province," Greg Essensa, Ontario's chief electoral officer, said in a news release. 
Polling shows Ontario voters are poised to elect the NDP's Andrea Horwath, left, of PC's Doug Ford, middle-left, as premier on June 7. However, Liberal Kathleen Wynne, middle-right, and Green Party Leader, right, are still campaigning. (David Donnelly/CBC)

"We are modernizing Ontario's elections in a measured and principled way to give electors a better voter experience."

Elections Ontario said e-Poll books and electronic vote tabulators were used for the first time in advancing voting. An e-Poll book is an electronic version of paper voters' lists.

Technology said to be shortening wait times

At advance polls this year, voters would receive a ballot from an official, then fill it out behind a voting screen, using a black felt pen to mark an X in a circle next to the name of the candidate of his or her choice.

Then he or she would hand the ballot back to the official who would insert it into an electronic voting machine. 

Elections Ontario said the technology shortened wait times for voters at advance polls.

Elections Ontario said the number of electoral districts in Ontario has increased from 107 to 124 and the change means some voters will be casting ballots in different locations or electoral districts in this election than previously. (Paul Daly/Canadian Press)

The number of electoral districts in Ontario has increased from 107 to 124 in 2018 and the change means some voters will be casting ballots in different locations or electoral districts in this election than previously, Elections Ontario said.

On election day, 50 per cent of the polls will have vote tabulators and e-Poll books serving 90 per cent of electors, it said.

Selfies with ballots violate secrecy of vote

The office is also reminding eligible voters, in its frequently asked questions, that they cannot take selfies with their ballots. 

"Taking a picture of a completed ballot — yours or anyone else's — is a violation of the Election Act because it violates the secrecy of the vote," it said on its website.

"It is also a violation of the Act to publish a photo on your social media channels or elsewhere of a completed ballot."

Voter information cards with details about when and where to vote have been mailed to registered electors. Voters are reminded to bring these cards and one piece of identification to vote. 

E-registration, the online service to add or update information on the voters list, is closed for the election. Voters are able to add or update information in person now when they go to vote.

To find out about identification required, go to Elections Ontario's page on ID Requirements for Voting.

To find out where to vote, go to Elections Ontario's page on Voter Information Service.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.