Advance polls for the 2019 provincial election opened Tuesday and Albertans came out in droves to make their votes count.
In Lethbridge-East, 2,227 ballots were cast on Day 1 of advance polls. The numbers were not made available for Lethbridge-West.
“On one day, it’s more than half of what we got the entire advance poll last time,” said Faron Ellis, a political analyst at Lethbridge College.
Elections Alberta said about 140,000 Albertans cast ballots on the first day they were able to, compared to 58,000 in 2015.
“I think turnout really just signifies the fact that people just want to do things on their timetable and they don’t want to be held to getting an activity done on a single day,” said pollster Janet Brown.
Ellis said high turnout in advance polls can also provide some security to candidates who know where some voters’ support lies.
“If you get your voters to the polls now and get your vote locked in, anything new that happens in the last few days, any… unpleasant surprises from any of your candidates… [it] can’t hurt you from those voters; they are already locked in.”
This is the first election Albertans can cast advance ballots at any polling station across the province, not just in their designated districts.
Elections Alberta said about 33,000 of the 140,000 votes came from people voting outside their constituencies.
Ellis said this new system could mean election result tabulation might take longer.
“If this is close provincewide or it’s close enough in enough constituencies, it could mean the difference between one party or the other, or a majority or minority,” he said. “We will be a week past the election before we have any real clear idea who the government is and who our MLAs are.”
In an unpredictable race, Ellis said every vote counts.