Windsor hasn't had a municipal election with a voter turnout higher than 40 per cent in more than a decade, and one resident says making voting more accessible could help.
"I think voters are having to jump through a lot of hoops and put in a lot of effort just to get their vote in, where it should be made very easy and accessible for them, especially with Windsor's ridiculously low voter turnout," said Ward 10 resident Amna Masoodi.
Across Ontario, just 38 per cent of those eligible cast ballots in their municipal elections last time around. In Windsor, the turnout was even lower. In 2018, 35 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, down from 37 per cent in 2014. The 2010 municipal election saw a turnout of 46 per cent.
Advance voting in Windsor begins on Wednesday and runs until Oct. 16. There are eight days of advance voting — three more than last election — and voters can cast their ballot at any location regardless of which ward they live in. Some of the advance polling stations offer drive-in voting.
Masoodi said many will rely on early voting this year because election day, Oct. 24, falls on Diwali, so many will be celebrating. She notes that not every ward has an advance voting location, and the voting days are not consistent.
"The schedule is confusing. It's like one day on, two days off, three days on, one day off, one day on, two more days off, and then a full week [off] before the actual election day," she said. "And unless you're a very, very informed voter, just a regular person would get super confused about when they can actually vote."
The city is also combining some of the regular polling locations this year, something Masoodi doesn't think will help turn out. She says the new set up may make voting less accessible for the most marginalized, who might face barriers around child care and transportation.
The city's manager of elections, Terri Knight Lepain, said the number of polls is similar to the previous municipal election, though two separate polls may share the same location.
Voters, however, will find that the new locations are an improvement, she said.
"Those locations we chose because they're more accessible for transit, there's better parking, more accessible for voters. The facility itself ... if the poll is shared between two voting subdivisions, its often sort of on a line in between the subdivisions, so it's accessible to both," she said.
Public transit is free for those on their way to the polls for early voting or on election day.
If you're wondering where to vote, voter cards will be arriving via mail that indicate where to cast your ballot. You can also look up your voting location online, Knight Lepain said.
Darcie Renaud is running against Coun. Fred Francis. in Ward 1. She said she's been heading out door to door to seek support, and she sends reminders to those supporters so that they follow through and cast a ballot on election day.
She said she worries this time that some changes to the set up of the vote may keep voters away on election day.
"I'm knocking on doors and people are saying 'oh I vote at —' and I have to tell them no, it's changed this time you're voting at a different place. So, we don't want them turning up where they voted last time, then just giving up and going home."