Did Toronto election results affect people still voting?

TORONTO – A record number of voters turned out to cast a ballot for John Tory, Doug Ford or Olivia Chow Monday in the Toronto mayoral election.

Polls closed at 8 p.m. but some people were still in line nearly 40 minutes later when Tory had already been declared the winner.

So could publishing results before everyone has finished voting inhibit voters? Maybe – but it probably doesn’t matter, Dr. Nelson Wiseman, a professor of politics at the University of Toronto said Tuesday.

“Was that going to change the results of the election?” Wiseman said. “For sure not. There was virtually a million people who voted.”

Voter turnout hit a new record Monday night as over 980,000 – about 60 per cent of voters – cast a ballot for mayor of Toronto.

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That being said, if there were people still in line after Tory was announced victorious, there weren’t enough of them to change the result.

Federal election results cannot be published until all polling locations close. But recent elections have seen staggered start and end times across the country to shorten the wait for east coasters.

That’s done to stop initial results in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia from changing the minds of people in Vancouver.

READ MORE: The Toronto election in five minutes

It seems unlikely someone in Vancouver is trying to decide who to vote for or whether to vote at all based on what their counterpart in Nova Scotia is doing, but it’s not impossible.

Even unofficial results have affected election results – but not in Canada. During the 1980 presidential election, NBC News used exit polling to determine Ronald Reagan would trounce Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter almost three hours before polls closed on the west coast of the United States.

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University of Toronto professor Dr. Renan Levine said the early results eventually “depressed” the democratic vote on the west coast where polls were still open.

But Levine said, in municipal elections, some early results likely won’t change much.

“Once people are in line, they don’t tend to leave just because some early results have come out,” Levine said in an email.

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