GTA

Long lines, missing voter lists among frustrations for GTA voters trying to cast their ballot

 

Oriole Park Public School-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
A polling station at Oriole Park Public School, like many across Toronto, had long queues for most of the day, frustrating some voters. (CBC)

Voters at polling stations across the Greater Toronto Area on Monday are growing frustrated with long queues as they attempt to cast their ballots. 

Lines outside polling stations are lengthy this year due to COVID-19 precautions, logistical errors in voter ID cards and lists and a greatly reduced number of polling stations for some ridings.

Emilie Garant said she arrived at Oriole Park Public School at around 9:40 a.m.. She didn’t cast her ballot until 11 a.m.

“Overall I’m pretty disappointed, I didn’t expect this,” she said. “We got here, we were informed half an hour into it that three of the voters’ lists hadn’t arrived yet.”

Spadina-Fort York-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Another polling station in Spadina-Fort York also saw queues for more than an hour, voters said. (CBC)

By the time she voted, she said those lists still hadn’t arrived.

“I feel bad for the workers at the station,” Garant said. “People are getting frustrated and it’s not their fault.”

At the Bentway polling station for Spadina-Fort York, voters lined up for about an hour or more before they got in, but the balmy weather helped keep frustrations at bay.

“It’s fine, I was able to take some work calls in line, [it’s] not too bad. The weather’s pretty nice, been waiting for about an hour,” one voter at the Bentway polling station said.

“We’re all outside, so that makes me feel good. People are reasonable.”

“It’s okay, it’s a sunshiney day and we’re exercising our right to vote,” another voter said.

Elections Canada website errors

Several people also reported being unable to locate their polling station on the Elections Canada website.

“A message comes up saying they aren’t able to find my polling station,” Daniel Mustard said. “It then asks you to call a 1-800 number to speak to an agent, but when I did that the agency also can’t find the address.”

“I’m lucky as I have all day to figure this out and vote. Others who may not be as keen might give up at this point,” Mustard added.

Others who chose to vote by mail were experiencing similar frustrations. Barbara Allemeersch said she only received her ballot on Friday afternoon and was now questioning whether her returned vote will be received in time. Mail-in votes must be received by Monday 6 p.m.

Elections Canada responded on Twitter to the numerous complaints and concerns of voters being unable to find their polling station.

“Please note that we are experiencing technical difficulties with the Voter Information Service application on our website,” Elections Canada said in a tweet on Monday morning. “Please check your voter information card or call us at 1-800-463-6868 to find your assigned polling location.”

A couple of hours later that was followed by a tweet saying the online information system was back online.

Some ridings have fewer polling stations this year

It’s important to note that some electoral districts in the Greater Toronto Area have remarkably fewer polling stations than they did in the 2019 federal election.

Toronto Centre had 91 in 2019, and has 15 polling stations this year. Spadina-Fort York had 56, but has 15 today. Those are the two ridings with the largest decrease in polling stations at 84 per cent and 73 per cent fewer than the last election, respectively.

In York Region, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill went from 39 to 12, and in Peel Region, Brampton East and Mississauga-Malton are down to 12 and 15 stations from  26 and 31, respectively, in 2019.

But while some polling stations are experiencing issues, several voters told CBC News that the process went smoothly for them at their stations.

“The doors opened at 9:30 a.m., I got here at 9:39 a.m., got in by 10 and just had to wait five minutes,” Blaise Gregory said. “Everything was a simple process. They had hand sanitizer, everyone was spaced out properly — just what you’d expect from the community centre from St. James Town.”

CBC

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