Edmontonians will be able to track wait times at polling stations for October’s civic election in an effort to reduce crowds during the fourth wave of COVID-19.
Edmonton Elections returning officer Aileen Giesbrecht announced Thursday the wait time tool will be available on advanced voting days and on the Oct. 18 election day to help residents pick the best time to go to the polls.
It’s expected to take residents a bit longer to vote this time around, Giesbrecht said, as a result of the three additional questions from the province on a separate ballot. The province will be asking two referendum questions, on daylight savings time and equalization, and holding a senate election in conjunction with the municipal races.
With active COVID-19 cases increasing in the city during a fourth wave of the virus, Giesbrecht said the elections team is taking extra measures such as the tracking tool to ensure safety for workers and voters.
Other measures include an increase in polling stations from 189 to 212, increased space in voting stations to accommodate physical distancing as well as the installation of plexiglass barriers. All election workers will also be required to complete a COVID-19 screening before starting their shift.
“The Edmonton Elections team is prepared to deliver a safe election and the safety of voters and workers is one of our top priorities,” Giesbrecht said during a Thursday media availability. “We are implementing safety measures to ensure everyone who visits a voting station feels safe.”
Responding to the province’s most recent slate of restrictions announced Wednesday evening, including potential proof-of-vaccination requirements, Giesbrecht said her team is still processing the rules and will make sure to follow all provincial health restrictions.
Monday marks the end of the nomination period for candidates seeking to run for mayor, councillor or school trustee in October. All nomination forms need to be accepted by Edmonton Elections officials by noon. As of Thursday afternoon, there are 11 candidates in the mayor’s race, two fewer than the 2017 election, and 69 candidates across the 12 council wards, also two fewer than last election.
Four of the 11 mayoral candidates and 23 council contenders are women, which is an increase from the 2017 totals of one woman running for mayor and 23 for council positions. Currently, there are two women serving on city council, Sarah Hamilton and Bev Esslinger, who are both running for re-election.
Eligible Edmonton voters will be able to go to the polls as early as Oct. 4 when advanced voting begins. Advanced polls, one location per ward, will run from Oct. 4-13 from 1-7 p.m., including Thanksgiving Monday. Residents can also apply for special ballot because of a physical disability, if they aren’t in the local jurisdiction or if working or running in the election.
On election day, Oct. 18, the 212 polls throughout the city will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents need to bring a piece of identification that has their name and residential address in order to vote.
Designated polling stations can be found on the city’s website. More information on the wait time tracking tool will be released closer to voting days.