Compared to 2016, nearly double the number of voters took advantage of advanced polls to cast their vote ahead of Regina’s municipal and school board elections on Nov. 9.
According to Elections Regina, 14,374 people cast their ballots from Nov. 2 to Nov. 4, at six different locations across the city, compared to 7,200 people in 2016.
As well, the city received 6,000 mail-in ballot applications, compared to previous elections where the city said it typically saw between 80 and 120 applications.
“The numbers are great to see, I think that it’s due to a couple of things. One because of the pandemic, people are wanting to come out and vote early. We’ve heard that there is a big weather front or storm coming in this weekend, that may have impacted people… we had waits at all our polling stations,” said city clerk and returning officer for the election, Jim Nicol.
“We also have contested races in all but one ward in the city this year and typically when there are contested races –which demonstrates that the public is interested and engaged — that tends to fuel people’s interest in coming out to vote.”
The location with the highest number of advanced voters was the South Leisure Centre with 3,918 votes followed by the Northwest Leisure Centre with 3,153 votes. Victoria Square Mall saw 2,412 votes and Northgate Mall saw 2,171.
City hall saw the lowest turnout with 1,806 votes cast at its drive-thru option and 914 votes cast inside.
For those waiting to cast their vote on Nov. 9, the city is providing free transportation on Regina city buses or paratransit. To take advantage of the service, the city said riders must print the pass from its website or show the bus driver the pass on their phone.
Due to COVID-19, those using public transportation are being reminded that face masks are mandatory. Masks will also be mandatory inside all polling stations as well.
“With the new provincial order that was issued… on election day next Monday, everyone coming into a polling station must wear a mask,” Nicol said.
“You will not be let into a polling station if you do not wear a mask. You will not be disenfranchised, our officials will go outside and offer you a curbside vote or vote in your vehicle.”
In order to vote, Nicol said people must be at least 18 years old and a Canadian citizen. They must also have lived in Regina for three months and in Saskatchewan for six months. ID is also required.
“For most people a driver’s license is the easiest thing to bring because it has your picture and your address on it. If you don’t have a driver’s license then two other pieces of ID, one that includes your name and one with your address. There is an exhaustive list of identification that is acceptable on the website,” Nicol said.
On Monday there will be 32 polling stations across the city and voters can find their polling station at regina.ca/elections or by phoning the city at (306) 751-4479.
As well, Nicol said people can still apply for a mail-in ballot application, but it is getting late and the ballot has to be received by 8 p.m. on election day.
While it’s unknown how the anticipated snowfall over the weekend will impact voter turnout on Monday, Nicol said the city has been working with its roadways crews to prepare.
“There will be priorities of course the main streets and thoroughfares in the city as per the standing policy,” Nicol said.
“The office also is aware of where all the polling stations are. We’ve been in contact with them and they will be working to ensure there is appropriate and safe access to all the polling stations in this city should the storm materialize as they are saying it is.”
Polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday.