All of Canada’s major party leaders are now among millions of residents who have cast their votes in the country’s first pandemic election, which culminated on Monday in a coast-to-coast Canadian election.
Elections Canada says about 6.8 million people voted early, most of them in advance elections a week earlier, and the rest voted via mail or special ballots at Election Canada offices.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole and his wife Rebecca arrive at a polling station in Bowmanville, Ont., on Monday morning to cast their vote in the riding of Durham.
Rebecca O’Toole told a poll worker that the couple wore the same blue dress they wore at the campaign launch.
“I wonder what he’s voting for,” she joked as her husband marked his ballot before casting his ballot.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau casts his vote with his three children at the ride in Papineau, Ky. His wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, who had already voted, waited at the entrance of the polling station.
Trudeau’s youngest son, 7-year-old Hadrian, grabbed his father’s hand and accompanied him to the voting booth, before the two pushed the ballot box together.
Other leaders voted before election day, including NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who voted in an advance ballot in Burnaby, BC, and Green Party leader Annie Paul, who voted by mail.
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchett also voted in advance, but spoke Monday morning in Drummondville, Ky., to encourage his supporters to go to their polling stations.
“This is democracy. People send to parliament the people they believe will best represent them,” Blanchett said on Monday. “Whatever Canada wants in the form of ballot questions, it’s their business. But I believe Quebec has a right to be different.”
Most of Canada’s more than 30 million eligible voters will mark their ballots today.
Elections Canada encouraged voters to wear masks, but only required them in places where they were mandated by provincial regulations. Proof-of-vaccination rules do not apply to polling stations in any province where they currently exist.
Elections Canada previously warned that the pandemic could lead to a longer wait for voters than in previous elections.
Public health protocols include keeping people at a distance and collecting additional information for contact tracing purposes, which can take additional time.
The polling station itself is also likely to be remote, as many schools and landlords opted to host crowds of voters during the fourth wave of the pandemic. That means less space to vote and potentially longer lines.
Elections Canada also told the Canadian press that it had intermittent problems with a search tool on its website that tells voters which polling station to go to based on their postal code. The agency urged voters to check their voting cards or call Elections Canada directly if they are not sure where to go.
Otherwise, a spokesman said that some elections saw distinct delays in being set, leading to a somewhat longer wait, but nothing unusual compared to previous years.
Polling stations are open for 12 hours, but opening hours vary by region, beginning at 7 a.m. PST in British Columbia and 9:30 p.m. EDT in Ontario and most of Quebec.
Most riding winners will be known by the end of the evening, but Elections Canada warns that it may take up to four days for all special ballots to be counted, meaning some close races may not have an official winner for several days. can.