Guy Bertrand photo There was a steady stream of citizens exercising their democratic right over the weekend as advance polling for the upcoming federal election took place at the Trail Memorial Centre as well as other locations throughout the region. Election day is on Oct. 19

Election 2015: Steady lines for advance voting in Greater Trail

Almost 300 electors cast a ballot in Trail on Friday, and another 200 on Saturday.

Polling stations in Trail and surrounding communities reported steady lines from opening until closing during all four days of advance voting.

Almost 300 electors cast a ballot in Trail on Friday, and another 200 on Saturday.

Those numbers reflect what happened in the province and across Canada since advance voting opportunities opened for eight hours each day beginning Oct. 9 and closing Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m.

Official statistics per riding won’t be released until after general voting day (Oct. 19), says Dorothy Sitek from Elections Canada, clarifying that comparing advanced voting turnout to the 2011 federal election is like comparing apples to oranges.

For example, Elections Canada opened 165 new advanced polling sites across the country this year, 58 of those in B.C.

Four days instead of three, longer hours of operation and additional polling stations gave greater opportunity for advance voting, Sitek explained, noting that historically, 80 per cent of Canadians hold off until general voting day.

“I can say, personally, in my experience living in B.C. for decades, and I lived in Ottawa before that, I’ve never experienced this kind of advanced poll,” Sitek told the Trail Times Monday.  “I’ve never seen it this busy and I know election workers are working very hard that people are being serviced.”

Since Friday, media has reported incidents of both voter and election worker frustration over the long lines and wait times to vote.

“I had a conversation with a friend who was at an advance poll and an elderly couple was in front of her,” she explained.

“The line was long but election workers were very patient and focused on what was needed in that moment. And no one complained.”

Canada Elections Act is very “prescriptive” of what each election worker can do, she explained, noting during advanced polling, the poll clerk is responsible for writing the name and address of the elector, before the elector signs the document.

Only then, can the poll clerk strike the electors name from the list, and only then can the Deputy Returning Officer check ID and hand the person a ballot.

“Normally, there’s only one ballot box at advanced polls,” she added. “And the Act does not allow Elections Canada to add additional desks when there is a line up.”

She reminds anyone wanting to cast a ballot before Oct. 19, there is one last opportunity today. Electors can vote by special ballot at an Elections Canada office. In Trail the federal office is located in Waneta Plaza.

If a valid driver’s licence or provincial ID card is not applicable, then two pieces of identification are required.

Another alternative is voting by mail, with today being the deadline to request a ballot.

“Today is the deadline simply because we need time to send it in the mail,” Sitek clarified. “And it must be returned to Elections Canada by Oct. 19. If returned locally, it must be in our hands by poll closing time 7 p.m. or returned to Ottawa by 6 p.m..”

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