There will be far fewer polling sites in Sault Ste. Marie for people to cast their votes during the Sept. 20 federal election.
According to data from Elections Canada, there will be 28 polling sites in the electoral district this election compared to 43 polling sites used during the 2019 election - a 35 per cent decrease in available polling sites.
However, there will be 162 polling stations this year, a slight decrease from the 163 polling stations used in Sault Ste. Marie during the 2019 election that saw a total of 42,037 votes cast.
“Because of COVID this year, a lot of the polls that we’ve used for many elections were not available for us,” said Rejean Grenier, regional media advisor for Elections Canada. “As you know, many school boards could not lease their schools because they didn’t meet certain criteria that were given out by the chief medical officer of Ontario to all school boards.”
Elections Canada had no choice but to find other places, turning to municipalities, community centres and arenas.
“You will have less sites, but almost as many polls in one riding,” Grenier said.
An estimated 8,813 voters took advantage of advance polls this year in Sault Ste. Marie, up from the 6,526 voters at advance polls in 2019.
So far, a total of 1,393 mail-in ballots have been returned to Elections Canada out of the 2,190 mail-in voting kits that have been issued to voters in the Sault Ste. Marie electoral district as of Sept. 15.