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B.C. election: In-person voters hit polls in the Okanagan

Click to play video 'BC Election: In-person voters hit the polls in the Okanagan' BC Election: In-person voters hit the polls in the Okanagan
Global News talked to voters to see if they had any apprehensions about voting in-person – Oct 24, 2020

It’s B.C’s election day and the polls have been open since 8 a.m.

Voting supervisor officer Steve Fingas said his polling station in Lake Country has been busier than expected.

“It’s been really busy, it’s been a great turnout here,” said Fingas.

“We were a little concerned at first, with all the opportunities to vote by mail and advanced voting, but the turnout has been exceptionally well.”

Read more: WATCH LIVE: B.C. election results 2020

Click to play video 'Vernon-Monashee voters react to pandemic election' Vernon-Monashee voters react to pandemic election
Vernon-Monashee voters react to pandemic election – Oct 24, 2020

Global News talked to voters to see if they had any apprehensions about voting in-person.

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“If you’re worried about crowded places, go early. That’s what I did. I figured no one would be here so you’re in and out right away,” said Alex Hoce, a West Kelowna resident.

“There’s some concern but I’m wearing my mask, staying six feet apart, and doing the best I can,” said Kelowna resident Scott Wickenheiser.

“Everyone in there is wearing masks and face shields and putting hand sanitizer on and there’s Plexiglass and such so I didn’t feel very worried,” said Brendan Ferguson, a Kelowna resident.

Read more: Here’s your last-minute voters’ guide to the 2020 B.C. election

With many opportunities to vote by mail or during advanced voting, we asked residents why they chose to vote in-person.

“We didn’t receive the ballot, actually, and you have to vote so here we are,” said Chuck Duffy, a West Kelowna Resident.

“I like to write down my vote and come in in-person,” said Hoce.

“Tradition. I like to put my ballot in the box,” said Bob Hansen, a Kelowna resident.

Read more: B.C. election 2020: Polls open across the province on election day

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Many B.C. politicians have been vocal about B.C. Premier John Horgan’s decision to call the snap election, so we asked residents how they feel about the early vote.

“I think they could have picked a better time for it but it is what it is,” said Sally Duffy, a West Kelowna resident.

“It’s an OK time; I mean an election is an election, right? It doesn’t really matter when the election is as long as it happens within four years,” said Hoce.

“The premier was doing this strictly for his own benefit. He could have waited a year until the pandemic was over a little bit,” said Hansen.

“I feel like it’s irresponsible. Given the pandemic right now and having a lot of people coming down to do in-person voting,” said Ferguson.

In Penticton, foot traffic at polling stations was described by volunteers as “steady” but well below average compared to previous elections, likely due to advance voting.

Read more: B.C. election results: Live, real-time results from the provincial election

At the Penticton Lakeside Resort, voters waited no longer than 10 minutes to cast a ballot.

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“The feedback I have got back is that it is steady, but slow. So slower than previous years, but fairly steady, and that is to be expected with all of the mail-ins,” said David Korinetz, Penticton’s district electoral officer.

“I just got home. I was visiting my mother for a little while out of town, so it’s the only chance I had,” Dirk Millar said of his decision to vote on general election day.

WATCH BELOW: A steady flow of voters made their way to local voting stations in Penticton, B.C., on general election day during a global pandemic. They explain why they chose to vote in-person, their experience with the process and the election issues most important to them.

Click to play video 'Penticton voters react to pandemic B.C. election' Penticton voters react to pandemic B.C. election
Penticton voters react to pandemic B.C. election – Oct 24, 2020

‘It was very easy, well done. It took five minutes, that is it,” voter Adrienne Lavoie said.

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Voting pandemic measures were visible on site, including Plexiglas barriers, hand sanitizer, physical distancing signage and volunteers wearing masks and face shields.

Penticton voters voiced a myriad of concerns when it came to election issues, including healthcare, education and the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I believe that the biggest issue is about this pandemic and how we handle it. So I’m concerned about that, and hopefully it will be OK,” said voter  Zohreh Alemousavi .

Read more: B.C. election: Penticton riding now a 4-way race

“More long-term care facilities for our elders. I feel terrible for the families that can’t go see their loved ones in the care homes,” said voter Kimberley Swaney.

Christie Lawrence says seniors care is a major issue that needs to be improved in B.C.

“Keep a better eye on private-pay seniors homes, we need more staff, that’s a big thing, we need more staff,” she said.

“With the rule about one care-aide can only work at one place, it puts a lot of strain on other homes that don’t have the people.”

Click to play video 'BC NDP leader John Horgan visits new child care site in Penticton' BC NDP leader John Horgan visits new child care site in Penticton
BC NDP leader John Horgan visits new child care site in Penticton – Oct 17, 2020

Voter Marilyn Gauthier said she is voting based on what government will best to support the needs of her family.

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“The waits for hospital times, the cost of post-secondary education, my kids have all gone through university,” she said.

“I think we will have approximately 10,000 votes to count after the election, and that is probably in the area of 30-40 per cent of the votes,” he said.

Read more: Penticton candidates gear up for unprecedented B.C. election campaign amid COVID-19 pandemic

Korinetz said Elections BC staff will spend the next two weeks counting and verifying mail-in ballots, as well as votes cast from outside the region.

“Every one is in an envelope. We have to verify every single one of them in the system and we are given about 13 days to do that. And then we are going to sit down and count them, and that is going to take about three days,” he said.

Click to play video 'Penticton riding profile' Penticton riding profile
Penticton riding profile – Oct 15, 2020

Liberal incumbent Dan Ashton has held the seat since 2013 when he won by nearly 6,600 votes.

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The NDP recruited Summerland mayor Toni Boot, Ted Shumaker is representing the BC Greens and Keith MacIntyre is running for the Libertarian party.