Advance polls produce long lines, complaints over wait times

It may not provide much solace to the voters today who were frustrated by long lines at advance polling stations, but Elections Canada suggests they should take a more optimistic view about our democratic process.

Not uncommon to have high turnout on 1st day before a long weekend, officials say

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair didn't run into any obstacles when he voted today at an advance polling station. But many Canadians complained about long lineups and wait times. (Chris Rands/CBC)

It may not provide much solace to the voters today who were frustrated by long lines at advance polling stations, but Elections Canada suggests they should take a more optimistic view about our democratic process.

Serge Fleyfel, a spokesman for the agency, said it was good news to see so many people out voting.

"People are exercising their democratic right to vote," added James Hale, also an Elections Canada spokesman.

While many Canadians no doubt are grateful to participate in the democratic process, some were just wishing the administration of that process, especially when it comes to voting, could run a little smoother.

Many Canadians complained Friday, the first day people could vote in advance polls, about insufficient staffing, long lineups and long wait times.

Test of patience

"We are hearing reports from across the country about two-hour, three-hour lineups," said Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Research. "People walking away."

"It's going to be a real test of people's patience, and to see whether or not people do have the patience, to sit in line for two, three, four hours."

In Kanata, Ont., for example, Ross Glasgow said he and his wife spent 75 minutes at his advance poll in a line of only about 30 people. He said they were asked for their ID twice, while the staff  hand-wrote out information on a separate sheet. And all this, he said, was done through one station with two people at the booth.

"Several people left. Will they return? I rather doubt it."

Over at #PollWatch  a Twitter forum set up by CBC News for people to discuss issues with voting, Michael Dorland tweeted, "At my local poll what used to take a few minutes now took over an hour. Incompetence or bad process — three ID checks!?"

Laura Friesen in Regina tweeted, "95 minutes to vote at 2 p.m. at Sunset Church in Regina."

Advance polls open and not everyone is happy

7 years ago
Duration 2:47
Some voters are frustrated by long lines and wait times

In Montreal, Moira Carlay said there were over 100 people waiting at her polling station. When she learned the waiting time — 1½ hours at the time she went — Carley left without voting, as she had to leave on a business trip.

"There were only 15 people in front of me, but it took an hour and a half to vote. There was only one scrutineer," one voter told CBC News. "Seems like they hadn't thought it through. Poor planning."

All this comes on the heels of a series of complaints from voters over mistakes on voter information cards 

The scale of the problem at advance polls is difficult to determine, as the people who encounter problems tend to be more vocal than those who had no issues.

Some took to social media to report that voting went swimmingly.

"No line in Toronto Centre," tweeted Timothy Allen Carter on #PollWatch. "Voted at St. Lawrence Community Centre. Even though I had to register was in and out in under 10 min."

Hale, from Elections Canada, said that when advance polls are held before long weekends, and with many people off and who have the time, it's not uncommon to have a high turnout and longer waits.

As well, because it's an advance poll, people have one more form to sign. A record of advance votes must be maintained, so a form has to be printed, signed by the voter and filled out by staff, which adds to the voting time. But this process at advance polling is not new.

Hale also said there are many more ways for people to provide ID when they vote, but the delays, in part, may just be the result of more people voting in this election.

But not everyone was placated with those explanations.

"They should  have staffed it a personnel level that reflected their understanding there would be a lot of people coming," Glasgow said.

How and when to vote 

Advance polls run through the Thanksgiving long weekend. Here are all the options to cast a ballot:

At advance polls: Fri. Oct. 9; Saturday, Oct. 10; Sunday, Oct. 11; and Monday, Oct. 12, at your advance polling location.

At Elections Canada offices: By special ballot until Tuesday, Oct. 13, at more than 400 locations across Canada

By mail: Until Tuesday, Oct. 13, you can apply to vote by mail.

Then on election day, Oct. 19: At your polling station with appropriate identification. If you are registered, you should have received a voter information card in the mail telling you where to vote. You should have received it by Oct. 1. You can also use the online Voter Information Service to find out where to vote.

No matter how you vote, Elections Canada requires proper identification, aside from your voter information card, including one piece that shows your current address.

Errors on the voters list? Problems at a polling station? CBC News wants to hear from you. Use the hashtag #PollWatch to share your experiences on Twitter.


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