The polling station, which is responsible for conducting the country’s federal elections, says the polls’ waiting times may be longer than expected due to a shortage of workers as well as strict COVID-19 measures.
The warning comes days before the federal vote scheduled for next Monday, when Election Canada prepares a historic national vote in the midst of the pandemic.
In a statement to Global News on Thursday, Elections Canada said it had recently reached just over 80 per cent of the total recruitment needed to vote in polling stations across the country.
“If we are missing some workers, it could lead to a slightly longer waiting time at the polls,” the statement said.
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The agency also said they had to ensure COVID-19 protocols such as external line-ups, physical distancing and one-way traffic through polling stations would be in place — which could also slow down the voting process.
While a longer wait may be the case at many polling stations across Canada, the number of people attending in person to vote on election day may not be as plentiful as expected.
Election Canada estimated that approximately 5.8 million Canadians voted in advance last weekend, setting a new record. The number marks an increase of 18.5 percent compared to the 2019 election, where 4.9 million votes voted in advance.
These numbers do not include any special mail-in or returning account votes, as the agency tells Global News that the process of counting the last votes can take as long as two to five days after the election.
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Elections Canada previously acknowledged a strong turnout in the by-elections held between 10-13. September, and said that “perhaps” there have been lineups in several places.
Some pre-voters well described long waits that sometimes stretched when asked by Global News this week. But others said the process felt much closer to normal than expected.
“It’s nice they went the extra step to make sure it felt safe,” Tamara Hinz, a child psychiatrist from Saskatoon, Sask., Said in an interview.
“It was a painful experience – painless and fast.”
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Some parts of the country, including the Greater Toronto area, have seen a decline in the number of polling stations compared to previous elections.
Due to the pandemic, Election Canada also in 2020 chose not to offer polls at universities and colleges, citing a lack of clear information at the time and uncertainty as to whether students would be allowed on campus.
Ipsos polls have suggested that about a quarter of Canadians feel it is unsafe to vote personally in the midst of the pandemic.
Only 16 per cent of respondents said they would vote for the post in this election, while 21 per cent said they were unsure whether they would vote for the post or in person. Only two percent said they are considering not voting at all.
– With files from Ahmar Khan
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