April 11, 2019 8:27 am
Updated: April 11, 2019 2:11 pm

Record-breaking number of votes cast at Alberta election advance polls

WATCH ABOVE: The number of people casting early ballots in Alberta has broken a record. Kent Morrison spoke with Elections Alberta’s Drew Westwater about what is different this year, and how to vote.

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More people have voted in the first two days of Alberta election advance polls this week, than during the entire time they were open during the 2015 provincial election.

The 2015 vote saw about 235,000 Albertans take advantage of advance polls, setting a record for the number of advance votes in provincial history at the time.

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That record has now been broken. In the first two days of this election’s advance polls, 276,000 people have cast a ballot: 140,000 on Tuesday, and 136,000 on Wednesday. For context, on the first day of advance polling in 2015, about 58,000 Albertans voted.

READ MORE: Alberta election cheat sheet: A last-minute voter’s guide

The high number could be attributed to ease of access. This is the first time Elections Alberta has opened up the voting process to allow Albertans to cast their ballots at any polling station.

Based on the numbers, the opportunity to do this is being seized upon with Elections Alberta saying about 33,000 of Tuesday’s 140,000 votes and 50,000 of Wednesday’s 136,000 votes coming from people voting outside their electoral districts.

In total, 83,000 of the votes cast over the two days — or 30 per cent — have been from people voting outside their riding.

READ MORE: Analyzing the rural and urban vote in Alberta election 2019

One thing that’s important to note: those votes cast elsewhere won’t be counted until the day after next week’s election.

“[On] election night, we are going to be completely focused on getting all the polls to report because we’re going to be counting all the election day polls, the mobile polls, special ballot[s] and all the advance polls in electoral district ballots,” Pamela Renwick with Elections Alberta said.

“Our focus is going to be there.”

That means it could be days before the final number of votes cast is counted, and some close ridings have the potential to be in limbo during that time.

“Depending on how close the votes are, how close the races are in each electoral divisions — that’s quite true,”Elections Alberta’s Drew Westwater said.

The official election results will likely be released a day or two after the election next Tuesday, he added.

READ MORE: Alberta election: How, when, where to vote

Elections Alberta said there are 2.7 million registered voters on its list, meaning approximately 10 per cent of eligible voters have already cast a ballot. That, when there are still five days left in the election campaign.

Watch below: People continue to line up to cast their ballot early for the Alberta election. About 136,000 people voted in advance polls on Wednesday, bringing the two-day total to 236,000. Kent Morrison reports.

Also new this year is where Elections Alberta can hold advance polls.

Changes to the legislation mean there are about 100 new locations for advance polls in malls, airports, recreation centres and even one in IKEA in Edmonton on Saturday.

“We’ve tried to pick a bunch of locations we could get access to [that] we thought would be convenient for voters,” Renwick said.

The Edmonton International Airport is also hosting advance polling stations from April 9 to 13. All registered Alberta voters can cast a ballot at EIA.

There has also been a “very high request” for special ballots, according to Elections Alberta.

Special ballots are requested by voters who are away, can’t get to the polls, or are incarcerated during the advance polls or on election day.

Close to 30,000 people have requested a special ballot.

Advance polls will be open across the province until Saturday evening, but not every advance poll is open every day. For more information on how, when and where to vote, click here.

The Alberta election will take place on April 16.

— With files from  and , Global News

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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