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Edmonton election 2021 sees spike in advance voting so far

Click to play video: '1st day for advance polls in Edmonton election 2021' 1st day for advance polls in Edmonton election 2021
WATCH (Oct. 4): On the first day of advance polls, voters came out in droves, keen to cast their ballots early. Sarah Ryan looks at the enthusiasm surrounding day one of the municipal election. – Oct 4, 2021

Over just two days of advance voting, Edmonton Elections said more than 12,000 voters came out and cast ballots.

Compare that to the last municipal election in 2017, when a total of 26,198 citizens cast ballots over 10 days of advance voting.

Read more: Edmonton election 2021: How to vote and what to expect on the ballot

In 2017, advance polls saw an average of between 2,000 and 3,000 voters each day, for a total of 26,198 at the end of 10 days.

On Wednesday, Edmonton Elections said it saw nearly 38,000 ballots cast by approximately 19,000 voters over the last three days.

So far this year, advance polls have seen about 6,000 voters per day.

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Advance voting in the 2021 municipal election started on Monday, Oct. 4 and runs until Wednesday, Oct. 13. During advance voting, polls are open 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., including on Thanksgiving Monday (Oct. 11).

Election day is Oct. 18.

Click to play video: 'Concerns raised about partisan politics creeping into Edmonton election' Concerns raised about partisan politics creeping into Edmonton election
Concerns raised about partisan politics creeping into Edmonton election – Sep 28, 2021

The 2021 Edmonton election includes the senate election and a referendum vote as well as the municipal and school board election, which means voters receive two ballots at a voting station.

On Tuesday, Edmonton Elections shared that it had more than 24,000 ballots cast by more than 12,000 people in two days of advance voting.

Read more: New wards, new names: What you need to know about Edmonton’s upcoming election

The number of advance voting stations has been doubled to 12 (one per ward) to encourage Edmontonians to vote in advance and avoid crowds and lines on Oct. 18.

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John Brennan is a political analyst in Edmonton.

He says there’s a number of reasons why the voter turnout is likely higher, the most obvious being the pandemic.

“It was the same in the federal election… A lot more people voted in advance polls than ever before. That’s because people didn’t want to have to go to the polls on election day, fearing there would be big crowds or big waits.”

Another factor? The open mayor’s seat.

“Whenever you have a competitive mayoral race, this has always been the case in Edmonton, it always drives turnout,” Brennan said.

“And then on top of that, you have the two provincial referendums — the one on equalization and the one on Daylight Saving Time. I think that might also be a reason to drive up turnout.”

You can find out where your voting station is by entering your address on the Edmonton Elections website.

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When the October 2017 election saw more than 26,000 votes cast in advance voting, that was an increase over the 2013 numbers.

In fact, it was a 13 per cent increase from the 2013 municipal election, when 23,093 voters cast a ballot in the advance vote period.

Read more: Edmonton election 2021: Candidates running for mayor and council

This year, there are at least 14 voting stations per ward on election day, including schools, churches and community centres.

You can find out where your voting station is by entering your address on the Edmonton Elections website.

For 2021, the city is using a wait-time feature that gives an estimate of how long the real-time wait time is at each voting station.

You’ll need to bring one piece of accepted identification that confirms your name and address in order to cast your ballot.

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