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Polling station in Alberta First Nation runs out of ballots

Voters hoping to cast a ballot at the Siksika First Nation southeast of Calgary were surprised to find there were none left.

The polling station on the reserve ran out of ballots for close to half an hour Monday afternoon before Elections Canada brought more in.

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“That’s pretty crazy,” said Siksika nation member Bryan Little Chief.

He said at first people were suspicious it was a voter suppression tactic similar to the robocalls directing people to nonexistent polling stations four years ago.

“It raises the suspicion that this is a [Conservative leader Stephen] Harper tactic, just like the last time around.”
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The station ran out of ballots shortly after Little Chief cast his own vote, around 4 p.m. Alberta time. Elections Canada says the ballot shortage lasted about 15 minutes; Little Chief said people were waiting about half an hour for ballots.

“I came back and there was just a backlog of people” – a line of cars snaking down the road.

Despite the wait, Little Chief said, nobody gave up and went home.

“I don’t think they were wanting to leave,” he said.

“I think the vote was important to them.”

And that’s what makes this election so dramatically different from others he’s seen.

“I said I’ve never seen it like this. … I’ve never seen this reserve come to vote in a federal election,” he said.

“In other federal elections, some people couldn’t care less, because the government, whoever is in power will have to deal with Indians, you know?”

But this year, it’s different, Little Chief said: People have been galvanized over Canada’s epidemic of missing and murdered aboriginal women, and in opposition to anti-terror Bill C-51, which many fear will criminalize the kind of protest characteristic of Idle No More and other protests by Canada’s indigenous peoples.

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“I think people are voting to get rid of Harper.”

Little Chief, for his part, likes the NDP.

“I think the NDP has hit the nail on the head on a lot of the issues for Indians.”

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