Voters lined up at the Cathedral polling station in downtown Halifax.

Election day in Halifax comes with delays, long lines and votes cast well after 8:30pm

Some students called this year's voting process "a nightmare."

It has been 36 days since prime minister Justin Trudeau called an early election, which proved successful as he held on to power late Monday night forming a minority government. The Liberal party’s seat tally is not much different than it was before the House of Commons dissolved.

Elections Canada warned that COVID cleaning and safety measures would likely contribute to delays at the polls. This was evident at 8:45pm Monday night at the Cathedral Church of All Saints polling station on Cathedral Lane, where a line of 20 or so voters stretched around the outside of the downtown Halifax church. A volunteer told voters in line that “Elections Canada underestimated the number of voters, particularly student voters,” but all those in line by 8:30pm would be able to vote beyond the poll cutoff hour. Elections Canada spokesperson Francoise Enguehard said in addition to the 20 voters in line there were "a few others" inside the station, and it took about an hour for the final ballots to be cast.

The Cathedral polling station remained busy from the time polls opened at 8:30am until they closed. Around 2pm, Tracy Stewart and Jarret Stewart waited in line but ultimately weren’t able to vote. “We didn’t actually get to register to vote, they said the line was too long. So we’re going to go and then come back later,” Jarret said.

At the Conservatory polling station on Chebucto Road, Kallie White said the situation around 5pm was “incredibly disorganized” and she saw a number of electors leave the station after learning the station had run out of voter registration forms.

“So many people were being pushed though… no one was social distancing. I was in the line for over an hour… I was at the front and then the line eventually just stopped moving. After a while I asked why, and one of the registration table workers said they ran out of registration forms and they didn’t know when they would have more.” White said.



Enguehard said registration forms were retrieved "quickly" from the nearby polling station at the Lebanese Centre, and that indeed there were a high number of voter registrations at the site.

click to enlarge Voters and volunteers at the Halifax Korean Church polling station on Oxford Street. - THE COAST
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Voters and volunteers at the Halifax Korean Church polling station on Oxford Street.

“Some people then just left because of the wait. After another 20 minutes they had more forms and I was finally registered.” White saidsuccessfully voted by 6:50 p.m., a little under two hours after she arrived.

Kyle Bell, a student at Dalhousie University, found the voting process particularly difficult without on-campus voting options this year.

click to enlarge Dalhousie University student Kyle Bell said voting this year was a "nightmare" and he missed on-campus voting. - THE COAST
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Dalhousie University student Kyle Bell said voting this year was a "nightmare" and he missed on-campus voting.

“Honestly it’s been a nightmare trying to vote,” Bell said. “I went to the Dal Student Union building and we tried to find out where to vote, but they couldn’t help me. They gave me a number to call, and apparently I’m supposed to go here. But they’ve made it really hard to vote this year.”

Nikki Olguin, another Dal student, ageed. She said “it feels like they’ve made it really hard, or harder for people than they should be” to vote in this federal election. Both Olguin and Bell said they found it easier during the August 17 provincial election. “But during a pandemic is probably not the best time for an election,” Bell said.

Not all Halifax voters were discouraged by this year's election process. Peter Bigelow, who voted at the Halifax Korean Church polling station on Oxford Street, said it didn’t seem like the pandemic impacted much. “I think most people seem comfortable getting out here and voting,” he said.

Also at the church poll, Cat MacDonald said the pandemic gave her the chance to find out information on candidates and party promises. “I’ve had more time to think about who I want to vote for, more time to research the different candidates and make an informed decision about platforms," she said.

“I feel more confident in my decision about who I’ll be voting for."

Full Halifax election results

Halifax
In the Halifax riding, the race was neck-and-neck between incumbent Liberal Andy Fillmore and former provincial NDP MLA Lisa Roberts. Fillmore won by about 1,200 votes. Cameron Ells ran under the Conservative banner. Former Green interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts represented her party in the downtown riding. B. Alexander Hebert represented the People's Party of Canada and Katie Campbell ran for the Communist Party.

Halifax West
With former Parliament House speaker Geoff Regan retiring after 24 years as Halifax West's MP, Lena Metlege Diab won under the Liberal banner. The former provincial immigration minister announced in June that she'd take a run at the federal seat. Metlege Diab, a lawyer, was first elected to the Nova Scotia legislature in 2013. The NDP's Jonathan Roberts had the second most votes in the Halifax West riding. He and Metlege Diab were up against Conservative Eleanor Humphries, Green Party's Richard Zurawski (a former city councillor) and Julie Scott ran for the PPC. This riding covers the west end of Halifax and Bedford, Upper Hammonds Plains, Tantallon and Terence Bay.

Dartmouth-Cole Harbour
Liberal Darren Fisher was re-elected in the Dartmouth-area riding. The former Halifax city councillor has been MP since 2015. He ran against small business owner Kevin Payne representing the NDP, who had the second-most votes. Activist Rana Zaman represented the Green party and Michelle Lindsay is running under the People's Party of Canada banner.

Liberals swept the three Halifax’s ridings, but the Conservatives made moves in Nova Scotia with Rick Perkins unseating Liberal incumbent fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan in South Shore-St. Margarets, and incumbent Liberal Lenore Zann losing to Conservative Stephen Ellis in Cumberland-Colchester.

About The Author

Lyndsay Armstrong

Lyndsay is a city reporter covering all things Halifax, health and COVID-19. She is a data journalist who has covered provincial politics for allNovaScotia.com and represented Nova Scotia in a national investigation into lead in drinking water with the Toronto Star and Global.

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