Election 2015: Toronto voters report long lines at advance polls

Advance poll voter turnout nearly double last federal election in B.C.

Voters use advance polls to avoid the crowds on election day, but many residents across the city have reported lines and long waits, forcing them to head home without casting a ballot.

Residents are reporting that they have had to wait between 30 minutes and two hours just to get inside the door at some polls. Others say that when they arrived at the polling station, there was only one ballot box, or one worker on hand to register voters.

"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."

Other would-be voters gave up when they were told they had to wait.

"I'm very disappointed," one woman said. "We don't like to stand in line and we found out it was too crowded and we have to come back."

An official with Elections Canada told CBC News that most advance polling stations have only one ballot box.

Information card errors also plague vote

The problems at the advance polls follow reports across the country of errors on voter information cards. Elections Canada has been fielding a barrage of questions and complaints about cards that give incorrect addresses for voting stations, or give information for polling stations hundreds of kilometres away.

Earlier this week, chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand called the volume of problems "normal."

"It's in accordance to the past history," Mayrand told CBC News Network's Power & Politics. "We have an additional one million electors in the system for this election, there's been a lot of change with the ridings, so it's not surprising."

A spokesperson for Elections Canada said the error rate is about 1.5 per cent out of a total of 26.5 million voter information cards, and in a number of cases the problems stem from the "source material" that is used to create or update the list.

Despite the rush, Ryerson University political scientist Daniel Rubenson said high voter turnout at advance polls isn't usually a harbinger of what will happen on Election Day.

"The research indicates that the people who go to advance polls are the kinds of people who are more likely to vote anyway," Rubenson told CBC News.

Close race may bring out more voters

There may, however, be an uptick in overall voter turnout given that the polls have yet to identify a clear front-runner.

"If the race is a foregone conclusion, there's less incentive to vote because we know what the outcome is going to be," Rubenson said.

"So why bother unless you're really motivated? Now, people might feel that their vote might matter more given that it's a very close race."

Margaret D'Souza complained about the long line at her advance poll. But she wanted to register her vote before she leaves the country for a European vacation.

"It's such a long wait, and it's ridiculous. Really ridiculous," D'Souza said.

"I want to make sure that the person that I want to win is going to win."

Advance polls close on Monday at 8 p.m. Election Day is Oct. 19.