Advanced voting over, Canada braces for election night

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The last day for advanced voting was on Monday and with six more days until election day, voters are ready to get in line on Sept. 20 to make the final call.

Kevin O’Donnell, assistant returning officer for Thunder Bay-Rainy River, said the voting process is running smoothly.

Prior to advanced voting, voters had to use a special ballot to select their candidate. This entailed voters having to hand write candidates names.

“If you’re voting by special ballot, people can vote by special ballot in the returning office right from the drop of the writ. So right from the beginning of the election period, you can vote in those offices. And you do that by a special ballot and the special ballot is a write-on ballot at that stage.”

Special ballots are the procedure of voting after the writ period and before the advanced voting. A writ is a legal document that the Governor General sends out to all of the districts in Canada that basically triggers the election.

Rejean Grenier, regional media advisor with Elections Canada, said the ballots are counted in front of representatives from every party. He added that the representatives can raise objections should a ballot not clearly identify the candidate’s name.

Taking COVID-19 precautions into consideration, O’Donnell said wait times are a little longer than they’d like.

O’Donnell added that Elections Canada has several COVID-19 procedures that are strictly followed by staff members and voters.

“All of our staff are masked,” O’Donnell said. “Hand sanitizer is provided, along with single-use pencils. Although, we are sanitizing some pencils if need be. But nobody’s using a pencil that anybody else has used without having it sanitized. We’re trying to keep them six feet apart in lineups.”

He also said they are trying to use a process where people move through the polling station rather than going in and coming out the same way. This, along with contact tracing, will allow Election offices and polling stations to reduce the likelihood of an outbreak.

The Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding has a population of 82,805. There are 64,724 electors on the list, according to data gathered by Elections Canada in 2019. 

The major census municipalities are Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, Neebing, Atikokan and Oliver Paipoonge.

In the 2019 election, Andrew Hartnell of the People’s Party won 741 votes. The Green Party’s Amanda Moddejonge won 1,829 votes. NDP’s Yuk-Sem Won registered 11,944 votes, while Linda Rydholm from the Conservative Party got 12,039 votes. Marcus Powlowski from the Liberal Party won 14,498 votes. 

Powlowski and Won are the only two candidates running again for the same riding.