Advance polls for the 44th Canadian federal election opened on Friday across Canada, including for the 14 election ridings in Saskatchewan.
It's a particularly interesting election to facilitate given the ongoing pandemic, said Marie-France Kenny, a regional media advisor for Elections Canada.
"With a snap election [in a] pandemic, those were challenges that created some problems in securing polling locations.… It was harder because some landlords didn't want to lease space, whereas they did before," she said.
The pandemic shrunk the estimated number of advanced polling stations at voting locations in the province by 42 compared to the last election in 2019. But the number of sites has increased to 789 from 741, estimates from Elections Canada show.
Administrators at the Saskatoon Field House, where the advanced polls for the Saskatoon-University riding were located, said they were busy from their opening at 9 a.m. CST Friday until just before noon, when it settled to a hush.
The advance poll at the Saskatoon West location, in the Royal Canadian Legion, had a steady stream of voters just after 1 p.m.
Elections Canada has received just under 314,000 of the more than 795,606 special ballot voting kits sent to electors, as of Friday.
What people casting their ballots were saying
Elections Canada said there are about 794,000 voters registered in Saskatchewan, though that number can change as more voters register at polls.
Alex Brooks was one of them. He was on his coffee break when he went to the Royal Canadian Legion in Saskatoon to cast a ballot.
"For me it's a matter of trying to encourage a minority government somehow," Brooks said.
"I don't really care who it is, Liberal or Conservative, as long as they are somehow balanced — I don't really see either of them as being particularly worthy of full control."
Houlden Greggains, a 26-year-old casting his ballot in Saskatoon, said climate change is one of the the most prominent issues for him.
"One of our major parties is still divided on to whether or not they're going to recognize climate change," he said.
"Considering, especially, they have kind of a stronghold in Saskatchewan and Alberta, so that's worrying to me and I need to do something about that."
Public health at the forefront
Shadia Drury, a political science professor emerita at the University of Regina, said she thinks people ought to consider the pandemic and public health as they cast their ballots this month. She said she thinks the Liberals have done a good job with the pandemic, in some ways.
"I don't know why [the Liberals] called an election," she said. "The other parties were co-operating with them quite well.
"I'm not sure whether anything will be accomplished by this, other than a lot of taxpayer money spent."
Advance polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST until Monday. Election Day is Sept. 20.