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Lower early voting numbers expected in Manitoba: Elections Canada

Not surprisingly Elections Canada expects fewer Manitobans took part in early voting this weekend.
Not surprisingly Elections Canada expects fewer Manitobans took part in early voting this weekend. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

While the final tally of Manitoba’s early voting numbers won’t be available until later this week, Elections Canada expects fewer Manitobans hit the polls this weekend than previous elections.

We were a little under the weather, after all.

Elections Canada spokesperson Marie-France Kenny says the massive Thanksgiving weekend storm that knocked power out for tens of thousands no doubt played a role in the lower turnout.

“We had polls closed and changed and moved and opened late and closed early, power outages and everything else,” Kenny said after four-days of early voting ended Monday.

“There were things like that going on all weekend … I’m sure we got lower turn out in Manitoba.”

READ MORE: Federal leaders send thoughts as Manitoba struggles under state of emergency

Early voting was held across the country Friday to Monday, and Kenny expects to have Manitoba-specific numbers Wednesday.

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Across Canada some 4.7 million votes were cast during the four days of advanced polling, up 29 per cent over numbers recorded during the same period in 2015.

Although Manitoba isn’t expected to have contributed to that strong turnout, Kenny says that doesn’t mean many Manitobans didn’t brave the storm to get their votes in early.

She says there were lineups at some polls as the weather cleared later in the weekend.

That’s despite voting stations forced to move due to power outages, including in Winnipeg where the polls at Robert A. Steen Community Centre had to be evacuated after a live power line fell in the parking lot.

Kenny said she heard many stories of Elections Canada employees going over and above the call of duty to keep their polls open.

READ MORE: Manitoba Hydro sets up camp near Portage la Prairie as cleanup efforts continue

She  said special efforts were also made at polling stations to allow travelling Manitoba Hydro to cast votes outside their ridings while they worked to restore power across the province.

“Our returning officers and their teams were fantastic,” she said. “Everyone was really resilient this weekend.”

Now that early voting is over, Kenny said Elections Canada employees are working to make sure the thousands of evacuees brought to Winnipeg from northern Manitoba can vote should they still be in the city on election day, Oct. 21.

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In the meantime she said voters including evacuees can still vote early Tuesday at any Elections Canada office in Winnipeg until 6 p.m.

Manitoba Hydro says some 13,000 and businesses are still without power, six days after wet, heavy snow started pounding the province, and it will likely be days before it is restored for everyone.

The Red Cross says about 5,700  people from 13 First Nations have been evacuated and are staying with family members, in hotels or at a shelter in Winnipeg.

Here’s where to find Elections Canada’s Winnipeg’s offices:

  • Winnipeg Centre, 1300 Ellice Avenue, Suite 500
  • Winnipeg North, 413 McPhillips Street
  • Winnipeg South, 2385 Pembina Highway
  • Winnipeg South Center, 1355 Taylor Avenue, Suite 100
  • Saint-Boniface – Saint-Vital, 774 Archibald Street

–With files from The Canadian Press

Manitoba premier declares state of emergency as snowy weather emerges
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