With the New Brunswick election campaign underway amid a pandemic, the number of voters requesting mail-in and special ballots is up.
Election Day isn’t until Sept. 14, but Elections New Brunswick says some voters have already made up their minds.
“The returning offices have seen a significant increase in the number of people applying for mail-in ballots,” said Kim Poffenroth, chief electoral officer for Elections New Brunswick.
“We’ve also heard from retuning offices that they’re actually having lineups at their offices for people interested in voting at the returning office.”
It’s good news for Elections New Brunswick, which is encouraging residents to vote as early -- and safely -- as possible.
“Any opportunity that people can take advantage of to eliminate those lineups, eliminate crowding in those polling stations, is a good thing,” said Poffenroth.
Initially, she was concerned there wouldn’t be enough people to work at polling stations, due to COVID-19 concerns. There is also a need for more workers to keep an eye on personal protective equipment and physical distancing at polling stations, but Poffenroth says many people have stepped up.
“Under the circumstances, I think things are going as well as can be expected,” she said.
Meanwhile, almost 700,000 ballots have been printed, cut and divided into bundles of 100.
They are expected to be boxed up and sent to every corner of New Brunswick on Wednesday, before the advance polls open on Saturday.
“Twenty-eight days is the shortest you can have an election … it really condensed the time frames, but so far, so good,” said Scott Williams, the CEO of Taylor Printing.
The business will drive the ballots to Grand Manan Island to ensure they arrive on time.
Williams said Taylor Printing is also getting lots of orders from the candidates themselves. With less than two weeks left, the move is on to make an impression on undecided voters.