‘A bit of relief’: Voters highlight flaws and benefits of advance election polls

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Canadians are showing force to cast their ballots ahead of federal election day, with 5.8 million Canadians voting during advanced voting.

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Advance polls were open from September 10-13, and for some, it became a necessity to avoid the large crowds seen on Election Day during the pandemic. Saskatoon, Sask. Tamara Hinz, a child psychiatrist in the U.S., made sure to cast her vote at the varsity ride over the weekend.

“It was a priority for me to get there before it closed today,” Hinze said. “It was a great experience – painless and quick.”

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Hinze, a mother of two schoolchildren, said the process was not very laborious. When she came to vote, there was a continuous moving line and she was able to get in and out within 20 minutes. In fact, she said she felt safe from the moment she saw employees completely masked, practicing social distancing and contact tracing.

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“I hope no one is afraid of voting because of the pandemic,” Hinze said. “Feeling safer than going to the grocery store.”

Elections Canada estimates that approximately 5.8 million Canadians voted in the advanced elections – an 18.5 percent increase from the 2019 election, when 4.9 million voted in advance.

These numbers do not include mail-in ballots so far received by Election Canada.

Some early bird voters described the wait on Twitter for hours.

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Elections Canada acknowledged that, due to heavy turnout in advance elections, “there may be line-ups in some places.”

For some, those long line-ups – somewhat a quintessential aspect of the pandemic at this point – were a good sign.

“Our wait is about an hour,” Uttara Chauhan tweeted on Monday night, the last day of advance voting. “But glad people are coming out to vote!!”

As for Hinge, he has spent much of the past four weeks dredging into the voting process. But, when it came time to decide whether to cast his vote, he said the process of in-person voting was more common than he anticipated.

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“It’s good that they took extra steps to make sure it felt safe,” she said.

Hinge, a progressive voter, was alarmed by the election call. With no threat of a no-confidence vote or otherwise, Hinze said she takes responsibility for her vote, but going to the polls with an impending fourth wave was not ideal.

“Calling an election felt a little unnecessary… I don’t vote in a pandemic,” she said.

It’s not just about the pandemic, but because of his profession, Hinge has been hired. She is also the mother of two elementary-aged children, so it seems impossible to find time to listen to debates or to follow through on every promise the party makes.

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“Just doing your democratic duty and not having to worry about it, it feels like a bit of a relief,” he said.

This sense of relief is echoed by Jennifer Taylor in Nova Scotia. The 38-year-old voted in his third federal election in the Dartmouth-Cole Harbor riding.

“I’m relieved to close it,” she said.

During the election, Taylor has felt “quite indifferent” to the fact that she had to vote in an election she felt “was not needed”. Early election calls prompted Taylor to vote for the NDP and pay less attention to the Liberals.

“It was quite a political move for the Liberals to call an election now, but we had to do our civic duty,” Taylor said.

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Taylor, who had just voted in the provincial election less than a month ago, said the process was nearly identical. As in the provincial election, her decision to vote early usually depended on finding a candidate she believed in and thought would be a strong advocate for her community. But during COVID times, things are naturally different, so they had to weigh the possibility that…

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