Voters frustrated by delays on opening day of advance polls

·2 min read
At St. Mark's Church in Saint John, some voters decided not to stay because of what could be a 90-minute wait, but others stuck it out.  (Graham Thompson/CBC - image credit)
At St. Mark's Church in Saint John, some voters decided not to stay because of what could be a 90-minute wait, but others stuck it out. (Graham Thompson/CBC - image credit)

Carol Ball says it took her five minutes to walk to her advance polling station Friday morning at St. Mark's United Church in Saint John, then another 90 minutes to get to the point where she could cast her ballot.

"It's ridiculous," she said, "Lots of people left."

Patrick Crilley was one of them. He looked at the lineup, which sometimes extended outside the building, and decided to return another day.

Graham Thompson / CBC
Graham Thompson / CBC



"I'll be back," he said. "It's my duty."

Elections Canada said it anticipated that more people would vote early, and that's why it has increased the number of advance polling stations.

In the last federal election in 2019, there were 179 advance polling stations spread across New Brunswick.

Now there are 235, according to data provided by Françoise Enguehard, regional media adviser for Elections Canada for the Atlantic region.

Graham Thompson / CBC
Graham Thompson / CBC



On regular voting day, Monday, Sept. 20, New Brunswick will have more than 1,500 ordinary polling stations operating from 8:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Enguehard said it seemed today as if a lot of people wanted to vote at the earliest opportunity.

Some lineups may have seemed long because of the physical distancing required inside the venues, she said.

Staff were also expected to wipe down surfaces regularly.

Graham Thompson / CBC
Graham Thompson / CBC



At the returning office inside the Marco Polo Terminal on Water Street, staff appeared to be wiping down the voting station between every use.

Kristin Campbell said it felt as if the federal voting system was much less computerized compared with voting in a provincial or municipal election run by Elections NB.

"They're all electronic," she said. "You take a piece of paper, put it in the machine and you're done."

Graham Thompson / CBC
Graham Thompson / CBC



"Today, they had to look us up, fill out our little piece of paper, then we had to vote, bring [the paper] back and then they tore off a section, and then we put it in the ballot box."

Despite waiting more than an hour, Campbell said it was still more convenient to vote today because it didn't conflict with her work schedule.

As a personal support worker, she often works overnight and has to rest during the day.

Bill Perkins said he prefers voting in advance polls because on Mondays he golfs.

Graham Thompson / CBC
Graham Thompson / CBC


He said people in the line were complaining, and some were upset but managed to pass about 90 minutes making conversation.

"We joked and talked and put in the time," he said.

Don Smith and his wife left the church one hour and 40 minutes after they arrived.

"That's just crazy," said Smith on the way to his car.

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