Lineups and signage issues slow voters down

On Oct. 19, Calgary Journal reporters Tatianna Ducklow and Anna Junker were tasked with visiting polling stations across Calgary.

Election day finally arrived, and we could feel excitement in the air as we dropped in at polling stations in several Calgary ridings.

Travelling between polling stations is like moving to different cities. Every one was different, and every one had different rules about who we could talk to. 

Traffic in and out of the Calgary Centre polling station at the Killarney Aquatic & Recreation was moderate around 1:15 p.m. The lineups were minimal and the people friendly.

Next, we made our way to the Military Museums, which was projected to be busy since it serves the entire Garrison area. With Flanders Avenue closed and election signage only within a one-block radius of the station, we managed to get lost.

When we finally made it in, the polling station was very full, set up among the Military Museums’ display of jet fighters and war memorabilia. People at this polling station kept to themselves, and those entering and exiting the building were on a mission to get in and out as fast as possible.An anxious beagle awaits its owner outside the Military Museums’ polling station on Monday, Oct. 19. Only service dogs are allowed inside. Photo by Tatianna Ducklow.

The beagle barking wildly outside seemed to have the same hope. The only dogs allowed inside the polling station are service dogs, and the pet was forced to wait outside as its owner voted.

The head elections officer told us there was an expected morning rush between 7:30 and 9:30. Before we could ask anything else, however, another officer interjected that all questions should be directed to Elections Canada’s main office. Understandable, but to our dismay, a roundabout set of phone calls ultimately led to the voicemail of a media liaison, an attempt at contact that went nowhere fast.

We then went to the southern half of the city to the Deerfoot Inn & Casino, where the parking lot was full. We tried to find our way, but with one yellow and black arrow sign hidden behind a shrub, it was a pretty tough. There were other signs plastered around, but they were small, and weren’t noticeable from afar.

One voter complained that she had trouble finding her way around. 

“I didn’t know where to go,” said Sandra Weir, 73, after she cast her vote. “There is a small circle on that door saying ‘vote’ and you walk in and there’s another one and an arrow, so it was kind of difficult.”

Weir has voted in every election she was eligible for, and said she has never seen such a strong voter turnout.

“We have to make a difference,” she said. “We have to get out. This is good, I like this!”

The same consensus was given inside. This polling station served a much larger residential area in the Calgary Shepard riding, and the lines persisted into the late afternoon. Many voters here had long waits because they didn’t have their voter identification cards, but the efficiency of this larger station kept the flow moving as election day drew to a close.

tducklow@cjournal.ca ajunker@cjournal.ca 

The editor responsible for this article is Madison Farkas mfarkas@cjournal.ca