Canadians are unusually eager to exercise their democratic rights during this federal election — and Manitobans are no exception.
Turnout for advance polls in this federal election is up 58 per cent in Manitoba over early voting in 2019, Elections Canada said in a statement late on Tuesday.
As of Tuesday, Elections Canada has counted 167,731 ballots filled out at advance polls in Manitoba, prairie spokesperson Marie-France Kenny said.
That preliminary tally is up from 106,119 early votes during the 2019 election.
It’s unclear whether the rush to vote in advance is due to additional interest in the election or a desire to avoid crowds at polling stations on election day. This is the first federal election held during the pandemic.
Voter turnout is up in all 14 Manitoba ridings.
Portage-Lisgar saw the largest proportional increase. Advance voting in the southern riding, held by conservative parties since its inception in 1997, is up 129 per cent over 2019.
At least 13,462 people have voted in Portage-Lisgar this year, versus 5,890 at advance polls in the last election.
Various conservative parties have won Portage-Lisgar every election since its inception in 1997.
The largest voter turnout in absolute terms is in Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, where 19,133 people — almost a third of the registered voters in the riding — have already cast a ballot.
The riding on Winnipeg’s western edge is a swing seat that’s been held by two Liberal and two Conservatives since its inception in 1997.
Overall, early voting across Canada is up 18.5 per cent, from 4,879,312 voters in 2019 to an estimated 5,780,000 at advance polls this year.
That is a new record for the country. The previous mark was set in 2019.
“I want to thank the electors who took advantage of advance polls for their patience and their help in making this a safe experience for everyone,” Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault said in a news release, making reference to the pandemic.
Another million votes are expected to be cast by mail, Elections Canada said.
This is expected to delay counting on election night, Sept. 20.