Elections Canada reports a handful of disruptions at polling stations across the country, including a protest led by Indigenous people and election workers failing to show up, as millions of Canadians cast their ballots in the country’s first pandemic election .
While the majority of polling stations opened on time and without incident, Elections Canada spokeswoman Diane Benson said issues were reported with several sites in Ontario and Western Canada, resulting in the late opening of certain offices or the need to relocate.
These include a polling station in the constituency of Brantford-Brant, southwest of Toronto, which had to be relocated following a protest organized by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council.
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The council last week voted against setting up a polling station on what it considers its traditional territory, calling it a violation of the treaty and encouraging members not to vote.
Local newspaper Turtle Island News reports protesters blocked all three entrances to the polling station before a standoff erupted with Six Nations police.
The newspaper said the polling station was removed from the reserve following negotiations between the two sides.
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“We are aware that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council protest disrupted voting at a polling station in Brantford-Brant before the polling station could be moved,” Benson said in an email.
Benson also reported that poll workers did not show up at two polling stations in the Ontario riding of Kenora, near the border with Manitoba. Waiting workers from other parts of the region were on their way, she said, with polling stations due to open by mid-afternoon.
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Two polling stations in First Nations in the Alberta constituency of Grand Prairie-Mackenzie also opened late due to the inability of staff to enter locked buildings. Polling stations have since opened.
Elections Canada also knew that a polling station in the community of Yekooche, British Columbia, in the riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley, had not opened.
Benson also reported that special arrangements have been made, with the approval of local campaigns, for several polling stations in the Toronto ridings of Eglinton-Lawrence and University-Rosedale to manage the flow of voters while respecting the security measures in place.
“We are aware of an interruption in voting services at several polling stations in Davenport,” she added. âThe votes have resumed.
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The isolated disruptions came as Canada’s top party leaders joined the millions of residents who voted in the country’s first pandemic election, which culminates today as Canadians from coast to coast to coast. go to the polls.
According to Elections Canada, nearly 6.8 million people voted early, most in advance more than a week ago and the rest by special ballots dropped by mail or at Elections Canada offices.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and his wife Rebecca arrived at a polling station in Bowmanville, Ont., In his riding of Durham on Monday morning, to vote.
Rebecca O’Toole told a poll employee the couple wore the same blue outfits they wore when the campaign was launched.
“I wonder who he’s voting for,” she joked as her husband marked his ballot, before the two cast their votes in the ballot box.
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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau voted in his riding of Papineau, Que., With his three children by his side. His wife Sophie GrÃ©goire Trudeau, who has already voted, was waiting at the entrance to the polling station.
Trudeau’s youngest son Hadrien, 7, held his father’s hand and walked him to the voting booth before the two pushed the ballot together into the ballot box.
Other leaders voted ahead of election day, including NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who voted early in his riding of Burnaby, British Columbia, earlier this month.
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Singh stopped by the party’s campaign office on Monday, which was adorned with orange placards, photos of their leader and yellow sunflowers, to thank the volunteers with his pregnant wife, Gurkiran Kaur Sidhu, who has been a staple throughout. throughout his campaign.
When asked how they are holding up, the couple told the volunteers they were upbeat and full of energy.
Bloc QuÃ©bÃ©cois leader Yves-FranÃ§ois Blanchet also voted early, but spoke in Drummondville, Que. On Monday morning to encourage his supporters to visit their polling stations.
âIt’s democracy. People send to Parliament the people they think will best represent them, âBlanchet said on Monday. âAll Canada wants in a vote is its business. But I believe that Quebec has the right to be different.
Green Party leader Annamie Paul voted by mail.
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The majority of the more than 30 million eligible voters in Canada will mark their ballot today.
Elections Canada told The Canadian Press that it is having intermittent problems with a search tool on its website that lets voters know which polling station to go to based on their postal code. The agency urged voters to check their voting cards or call Elections Canada directly if they didn’t know where to go.
Benson said Elections Canada was also investigating high call volumes in some electoral districts, although it did not specify which ridings were affected.
Elections Canada previously warned that the pandemic could lead to longer wait times for voters compared to previous elections.
Public health protocols involve keeping people at bay and collecting additional information for contact tracing purposes, which could take longer.
The polling stations themselves are also likely to be further away, as many schools and landlords have chosen not to accommodate crowds of voters during the fourth wave of the pandemic. This means fewer places to vote and potentially longer queues.
Elections Canada encouraged voters to wear masks, but only required them in places where they were mandated by provincial rules. Proof of vaccination regulations do not apply to polling stations in provinces where they currently exist.
Edmonton Police said they responded to a disturbance at a polling station where a man and woman refused to wear a mask inside a local public school as they attempted to vote. Police said the man was granted medical exemption and cooperated when asked to leave.
An Elections Canada spokesperson said some polls had experienced isolated delays in implementation, which created longer waits, but nothing unusual from previous years.
George Walker voted in Toronto on Monday afternoon. He called the experience “soft” and called the security measures taken at the polling station “wise”.
âBut it took longer than in the past, mainly because of COVID,â Walker said, adding that he didn’t mind waiting another 15 minutes.
Shannon Fernandez said voting on Election Day was “super easy”, “stress free” and “very easy”.
“I felt it was very well organized,” added Fernandez. “No complaints at all.”
Polling stations are open for 12 hours, but hours of operation vary by region, starting as early as 7 a.m. PST in British Columbia and until 9:30 a.m. EDT in Ontario and most parts of Quebec.
Most of the constituency winners will be known by the end of the evening, but Elections Canada has warned that it could take up to four days to complete the counting of all special ballots, which means some races tight may not have official winners for several days.
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