Elections Canada told Global News on Friday it has secured just over 14,000 polling sites for the day, down from the over 15,000 available in 2019.
However, the agency said while some areas have fewer polling locations, there will be more polling stations within those locations, adding that should help decrease wait times and provide better service to those voting.
A spokesperson said the reasoning as to the loss of polling locations is due to the pandemic, as there was an increased effort to find larger locations, which would allow for better physical distancing. The spokesperson also said some voters may have to wait outside to respect physical distancing requirements.
There are also fewer facilities available due to situations such as the Toronto District Catholic School Board who in August voted to not allow its schools to be used as polling stations.
At the time, a TCDSB spokesperson said the board of trustees voted 6-5 to not allow polling places in the board’s schools “to eliminate any additional risk of COVID-19.”
In total, 11 GTA ridings will see a more than 50 per cent decrease in the number of stations, making it so voters may have to travel a farther distance to vote.
The hardest-hit riding is in Toronto Centre, where only 15 stations will be available, down for the 91 that were open in 2019.
Other ridings are as follows:
- Spadina—Fort York – 56 in 2019, 15 in 2021
- Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill – 44 in 2019, 17 in 2021
- University—Rosedale – 69 in 2019, 23 in 2021
- Etobicoke North – 36 in 2019, 13 in 2021
- King—Vaughan – 45 in 2019, 17 in 2021
- Vaughan—Woodbridge – 31 in 2019, 12 in 2021
- Scarborough Southwest – 59 in 2019, 25 in 2021
- Brampton East – 26 in 2019, 12 in 2021
- Parkdale—High Park – 69 in 2019, 33 in 2021
- Mississauga—Malton – 31 in 2019, 15 in 2021
There are, however, four ridings that will see an increase in polling stations. Etobicoke Lakeshore will see two more (63 to 65), Mississauga Centre will see three more (78 to 81), Mississauga—Streetsville will see four more (26 to 30) and Markham—Unionville will have five more (46 to 51).
Advance polling for the Sept. 20 election began Friday.
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