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Calgary to open drive-thru voting station for municipal election

Click to play video 'Drive-thru voting appears to be a hit in Calgary' Drive-thru voting appears to be a hit in Calgary
WATCH: The City of Calgary's test of drive-thru voting appears to be hit with reports of waits up to one hour. Doug Vaessen reports.

The City of Calgary is making advance voting as easy as picking up your morning coffee.

A new drive-thru voting station opens Wednesday morning in the east parking lot of McMahon Stadium allowing voters to cast their ballot from the comfort of their car.

“Voters may not necessarily want to get up and get out and into the voting station,” said Paul Denys, manager of voting and census for the City of Calgary. “I think that it’s a matter of the convenience factor in a society that is very much on the run all the time.”

WATCH BELOW: Global’s Doug Vaessen on changes to the voting process for 2017.
Click to play video 'Calgary election 2017: Nenshi and other mayoral candidates speak to arena controversy' Calgary election 2017: Nenshi and other mayoral candidates speak to arena controversy
Calgary election 2017: Nenshi and other mayoral candidates speak to arena controversy

After pulling into the polling station, an election worker will approach the voter’s car and ask for identification along with the ward and races they wish to vote for. The worker will then fetch the appropriate ballots and a privacy folder and bring them back to the voter who will make their mark in private.

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“This is operating as a regular voting station like any other voting station,” Denys said. “We’re not cutting corners in any way.”

After marking their ballot, the voter can either walk it to a trailer which has been set up as an advance poll office or hand it back to the election worker who will put it in the ballot box for them. For those who want to see their ballot be physically cast without going into the trailer, a live stream of the ballot box can be shown to the voter on an iPad.

FULL COVERAGE: Calgary election 2017

“We’re always on the lookout for new ways to make voting more innovative and more convenient for individuals,” said Denys.

The voting station might also make it more convenient for candidates in the election to launch a guerrilla marketing campaign of sorts. Outside the orange barricades which denote the polling area, there is nothing stopping those with their name on the ballot from holding up signs or placards along Crowchild Trail or from the bridge connecting the stadium to the Banff Trail LRT station, despite being directly in the sightline of those casting a ballot.

“Just like in a regular voting station, someone could stand across the roadway,” Denys said. “They just simply cannot conduct those activities inside the voting station.”

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Denys said voters with bumper stickers or placards for candidates in or on their vehicles would be asked to remove them or to park their vehicle outside of the polling station area and cast their ballots inside the polling station trailer.

The drive-thru polling station is not the only unique alternative the city is leveraging to give people fewer excuses not to vote. Advance voting locations have been set up at schools and city facilities like libraries and leisure centres, and the “Vote Bus” voting station will be positioned at a number of transit stations and other facilities over the course of the next week.

“We realize people are very busy, so we are going to be where people are doing what they need to do.”