Nearly 3,000 more St. Albertans cast a ballot in advanced polls this election than they did during the 43rd general election in 2019, according to preliminary numbers.
On Sept. 14, Elections Canada released their estimate of turnout at advanced polls along with an estimated breakdown of the number of people who voted in each of the 338 districts.
“[The polls] were definitely busier than last election,” said Tammy Ward, a veteran poll worker.
Preliminary numbers show 19,566 St. Albertans took to the advanced polls, which were held from Sept. 10 to 13. During the last election, 16,478 St. Albert voters cast an early vote.
Ward said they were busiest on the evening of Sept. 13 as people rushed to get their votes in before the polls closed at 9 p.m.
Preliminary numbers from advanced polls show around 5,780,000 voters across the country cast an early ballot, an increase of 18.46 per cent compared to the last election. In 2019, there were 4,879,312 people who took advantage of the advance polls.
Sturgeon River-Parkland also saw an increase in advanced poll numbers this election. According to Elections Canada data, 19,497 people voted early in Sturgeon County in 2019. Estimates are putting the number for advanced voters at 22,937 this time around.
"I want to thank the electors who took advantage of advance polls for their patience and their help in making this a safe experience for everyone. I also want to thank the tens of thousands of election workers for making this possible," said Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault.
"Canadians still have the opportunity to contribute to this great democratic exercise by voting on election day or by returning their special ballot before the Sept. 20 deadline."
In light of recent public-health measures in Alberta, Leanne Nyrifa, Elections Canada's regional media advisor for Alberta, said in an email Elections Canada has communicated with the Alberta health authority and confirmed there will be no changes in the voting process for electors on election day.
Masking requirements will remain in place, as will other health and safety measures, such as physical distancing, use of hand sanitizers, Plexiglass barriers, and single-use pencils.
"Polling places are not considered “discretionary events and businesses.” Facilities can be used for electoral operations and are not subject to capacity limits that may otherwise be imposed on facilities that choose not to verify vaccination status," said Nyrifa.
Vaccination status is also not a factor in voting in these facilities.
"There is no expectation to check proof of vaccination for either our workers or electors," Nyrifa wrote.
The 44th general election takes place today. Polls are open from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Voters are encouraged to contact Elections Canada if they have any questions.