More than 33,000 voters in Newfoundland and Labrador vote at advance polls

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador electors headed to advance polls on Saturday with many choosing to cast their vote cast ahead of next week's provincial election.

Provincial elections officials said 33,523 voted in the single day of advance voting, roughly nine per cent of 368,135 eligible voters.

Adrienne Luther, an Elections Newfoundland-Labrador spokeswoman, said that number compares to 21,289 advance poll votes during the last provincial election in 2019.

Luther said special ballots, which include advance voting as well as mail-in ballots, have also proven particularly popular this time and they suspect a winter election and the COVID-19 pandemic are playing a role.

During the 2019 provincial election, about 10,000 used a special ballot and the province is already reporting 25,000 ballots this time around.

"The fact that it's soaring so much this election, the only thing that it points to a rationale is the pandemic and people are probably not as interested in going out to vote and saw that as an easy alternative," Luther said.

As for inclement weather on election day, the province's chief electoral officer has the right to postpone the vote in a particular region.

"Our weather is notoriously finicky," Luther said with a laugh. "Right now, we're crossing our fingers and our toes."

Among those casting a ballot Saturday was NDP Leader Alison Coffin, who campaigned in the St. John's area and encouraged all residents of the province to vote and have their voices heard.

On the final Saturday of campaigning ahead of the Feb. 13 provincial election, Liberal Party Leader Andrew Furey campaigned with candidate Paul Pike in Burin-Grand Bank.

The riding is held by the Liberals, where Carol Anne Haley, a former cabinet minister, announced she wouldn't seek re-election.

Furey did not hold any media availabilities on Saturday. He later visited Bonavista and Terra Nova districts -- the latter two ridings the Liberals lost in the 2019 provincial election to the Progressive Conservatives.

Going into the campaign, the Liberals held 19 seats, Ches Crosbie's Progressive Conservatives held 15 seats, the NDP had three seats and there were three Independents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press