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As voters flock to advance polls, some face lineups at Newmarket polling stations

Elections Canada reports an increase in early voting last weekend
Elections Canada sign
File photo

Some Newmarket-Aurora residents expressed concern about lineups as more voters flocked to advance polling Sept. 10 to 13.

Elections Canada is estimating 5.78 million voted in advance polls this year, up 18.46 per cent over 2019. Statistics are not yet available on a per-riding basis. 

The influx of voters along with COVID-19 physical distancing protocols led to some reports of lengthy lineups at Newmarket’s advance polling locations. Those sites included the Ray Twinney Recreation Complex, the Newmarket Community Centre and the NewRoads Performing Arts Centre.

“Lineups are long. Very disorganized,” one voter wrote on Facebook about the experience at the arts centre Sept. 13. “People weaving in and out from lines to either get in to vote or leave after voting. Been here 20 minutes so far and still far behind in the lineup. What a disappointment.”

Elections Canada has assured the public about the safety of voting with its COVID-19 protocols. But concerns about how the protocols could affect lines, particularly with fewer polls available for the Sept. 20 election, prompted some candidates to encourage people to vote early.

Regional media adviser Dugald Maudsley said there were more advance polls than in 2019, but the increased number of advance voters did lead to some lineups.

“We want to thank electors for their patience. We also want to thank electors, election workers, and candidates for ensuring that polling places are safe for everyone who is going there.”

Advance voting has trended upwards overall since 2011, with 4.9 million people choosing that option in 2019. 

Although some people complained about lineups, the experience was not universal. Advance polls were open for 12 hours each day they were running.

“I voted at the Newmarket Community Centre and was in and out in less than 15 minutes,” one commentator said on Facebook. “I was shocked.” 

Voters have until 6 p.m. today, Sept. 14, to apply online to vote by mail. People can also still vote at their local Elections Canada office up until 6 p.m. today, which is at 16655 Yonge St. for Newmarket-Aurora.