TORONTO - After a short 5-week campaign, voting day has arrived. Today, Canadians across the Nation will head to the polls to cast their vote. Some may still be asking whether holding an election in the middle of a pandemic was necessary. Either way, casting a vote gives Canadians the opportunity and privilege to have a say in Canada’s future government.
Unless you were one of estimated 5.8 million electors who voted during the advance polls, it may be worth it to pack some patience when heading out to vote today. Those who wanted to avoid large crowds and long line-ups today, showed up in record numbers during the advance polls. According to Elections Canada, the turnout for early voting between September 10-13 suggested a 18.5% increase over figures from the 2019 federal election advance polls.
Elections Canada is also anticipating a larger number of mail-in ballots this year. As of September 17, over 1.2 million special ballot voting kits were issued to electors. To date, 811,235 kits have been returned to Elections Canada. That is about 16-times the roughly 50,000 special ballots cast during the 2019 Federal election.
Since the special ballots do not include the list of candidates, voters must write the name of the candidate on the ballot. The counting of these votes will only begin once all mail-in ballots are received by the deadline on election day. Election officials caution it could take a number of days to complete the count of mail-in ballots, validate and finalize the results, especially in ridings where support among parties is evenly split.
For instance, in the 2019 federal election, the constituency of Richmond Hill was decided by a margin of 212 votes, emphasizing the importance of every single vote. Out of the 3,857 special ballots issued to electors for the riding, as of September 17, 2,119 have been returned.
According to the latest projections by 338Canada.com (September 18), which uses algorithms that take into account results of all major polls, the Conservatives and Liberals are tied at 42%, indicating another close call in store for Richmond Hill.
Nationally, it is also a tight race between the two leading parties, with the Liberals and the Conservatives jockeying for top spot. The most recent data by 338Canada.com (September 18), shows the Liberals at 32.2% ahead of the Conservatives, at 31.5%, a difference of less than one a percentage point.
Support for the NDP holds at 19.2%, while the Bloc Quebecois is at 7.0%. The PPC is at 5.7% followed by the Green Party at 3.3%. It may just take a little longer than usual to announce the official victor of the 44th federal election.
P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter