Long lines reported at multiple polling stations across Greater Toronto Area

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Canada election: Long lines reported at some Toronto polling stations
WATCH ABOVE: Long lines were reported at some polling stations in Toronto Monday as Canadians voted in the federal election. Matthew Bingley reports. – Sep 20, 2021

As the polls closed across Ontario, long lineups could be seen outside several Greater Toronto Area polling stations after the number of locations offered were slashed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Polling locations officially closed at 9:30 p.m. ET. However, polling locations in ridings such as Toronto Centre, King–Vaughan and Spadina–Fort York saw lengthy lines.

Officials said anyone who was in line before 9:30 p.m. would be allowed to vote.

Elections Canada had previously told Global News it had secured just over 14,000 polling sites for the day, down from the over 15,000 available in 2019.

In total, 11 GTA ridings have more than a 50 per cent decrease in the number of stations, making it so voters may have to travel a farther distance to vote.

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The hardest-hit riding is in Toronto Centre, where only 15 stations are available, down for the 91 that were open in 2019.

Toronto Centre stations with long lineups included the Distillery District where a Global News reporter captured the winding lineup in a timelapse.

“It’s the first time for me that I’ve been waiting in line to cast my ballot but it’s important and I have to be here,” Ray Ahmed told Global News at the Distillery District, adding he wasn’t too happy about the long line but was happy to see so many people wanting to “exercise their rights.”

Also in the Distillery District, Mark Kuznicki said he was very stressed about how he was going to vote as he only had two hours to do so and he didn’t think it would be enough.

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“I’m worried I won’t be able to come back later and have it not be better. This is insane, I’ve never seen anything like this … I don’t know what Elections Canada is doing and not communicating with people how much of an impact this would be in advance,” he told Global News.

Sheodhna Keown who was voting in the Toronto Centre told Global News she felt her experience was a “disaster.” She said she was waiting in line for two hours and saw several elderly people in line, people with disabilities and people with small children. She said there was no communication and no sense of order.

Keown said she witnessed people leaving the line and walking away clearly frustrated. But she said she stuck it out because it was important.

“It’s my civic duty. I’m not thrilled that this election was called but I feel it’s my responsibility and civic duty to vote,” she said.

In Spadina-Fort York there are only 15 stations available, down from 56 in 2019. A lineup with an estimated wait time of over an hour could be seen at the polling location at the Fort York visitor centre late Monday morning.

Stations at Palais Royale Toronto, Precious Blood Church Roman Catholic Church on Lawrence Avenue and along Lakeshore also saw long winding lines. However, it did appear that safe distancing and masking were taking place.

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When asked by Global News why they hadn’t voted by mail or in advance, several people said it was because they were undecided or did not realize how long they would have to wait on the actual day

Elections Canada said that while some areas have fewer polling locations, there will be more polling stations within those locations, adding that should help decrease wait times and provide better service to those voting.

Voters lined up along Lakeshore. Doug Gamey/Global News
Voters lined up at Precious Blood Roman Catholic Church. Gord Edick/Global News


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