Municipal elections are underway all over Manitoba and voters, such as Mila Rapajon, are heading to the polls today to cast their votes.
“I just want to exercise my right, and as a Canadian citizen it’s your right to vote,” she told CBC News after marking her vote at a polling station at Maples Community Center in northwest Winnipeg.
Despite her conviction about her civic duty, she wasn’t sure who should get her support.
“All the candidates say, ‘I’ll do this, I’ll do that,’ but when they’re in the position… they all forget it. So when I vote, I’m like, eeny, meeny, miny, moe.”
Polling stations – 198 of them – opened at 8 a.m. at locations in the county seat and are open until 8 p.m.
If you queue before 8pm, you can still cast your vote, even if the wait goes until 8pm, senior election officer and city secretary Marc Lemoine said.
Like Rapajon, Henry Dow claimed it was necessary to mark a ballot.
‘Of course it is important to vote. It’s the only way I have anything to say about it, in our system,” he said outside the Maples polling station.
When asked what changes he’s looking forward to, Dow was blunt: “An honest politician.”
David Kroeker said voting is how he can have a say in decisions made at City Hall.
“If you don’t vote, you don’t have room to cry,” he said.
“People fought wars so we could vote. That’s why I vote,” said Colleen Kroeker, his wife.
While residents were allowed to visit any site to vote in the preliminary polls, voters must go to their assigned site on Election Day, Lemoine said.
You can find that address in the orange box on the voter message you received by post.
A sample post the city had made up as an example featured an imaginary voter named Willow Rosenberg — the name of a witch from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
“Whatever we can do to get people to the polls, right? That’s what matters to me,” Lemoine said.
If you don’t have a voter’s slip, you can also see where to vote by typing in your address this page on the city’s website or by calling 311, Lemoine said.
You can find more details on how to vote here and what to bring.
People in Winnipeg elect a new mayor for the first time since 2014 and a record number cast their votes in primaries.
There was also an increase in the number of people voting by mail, by about 800 this year compared to 200 in the last civilian election, Lemoine said.
Adele and Sheldon Globerman, who voted in The Maples, applauded efforts to increase voting opportunities through preliminary polls in malls and other public places, but they would also like to have the option to vote online.
“You can do everything else online these days. You should also be able to vote,” said Sheldon Globerman.
Voting machines tested
Ahead of the polls opening for Wednesday, election officials tested all of the city’s voting machines with 50,000 pre-marked ballots — and the results were spot-on, Lemoine said.
“So we’re very confident in the results coming out of those machines,” he said.
Ballot counting will begin after polls close at 8 p.m., Lemoine said, starting with the preliminary ballots and then moving on to the votes cast on Election Day.
Once the results are in at each station, the election officials will send the final results to City Hall – after which they will be posted online.
The first results are expected between 8:15 PM and 8:30 PM, while the bulk of the results are expected around 9:15 PM, Lemoine said. All results should be in by 9:45 PM
CBC will host a live Winnipeg election results, which you can view on our website, our Facebook page and on CBC TV and CBC Gem. Programming is scheduled from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM, but will take longer if necessary.
For Winnipeg voters still trying to decide who should be the city’s next mayor, watch this list of what the candidates have promised and these one-on-one interviews with CBC.
Five of the candidates also took part in CBC’s mayoral candidate debate last week, which you can watch here.
New councilors arriving
In addition to electing a new mayor, Winnipeggers also vote for city councilors in 13 of the 15 wards.
The other two were elected by acclamation after no one ran into them.
Sections with races include Transcona, where a sitting councilor faces his predecessorand Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood and St. Jameswhere the leagues are wide open as their incumbent candidates run for mayor — meaning Winnipeg is guaranteed to get at least two new councilors.
The other wards that councilors will elect are Daniel McIntyre, Elmwood-East Kildonan, Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry, Mynarski, North Kildonan, Point Douglas, River Heights-Fort Garry, St. Boniface, St. Vital and Waverley West.
School trustee controversy
You can read the full list of who is running for school administrator in Winnipeg on the city’s website.
Those races have not been without controversy. At least a dozen people running for school board positions in Winnipeg are believed to be outspoken critics of the pandemic-era restrictions, some of whom have gained widespread notoriety for their dissent.
Concerns have also been raised about Manitoba’s election laws regarding school board races, as current rules do not require disclosure about who is funding a campaign.
National races warm up
Nearly half of Manitoba’s municipalities holding elections this year will elect the head of the council – mayors or board members – by acclamation.
But the city of Brandon is one of those with a mayoral race — the first in Manitoba’s second-largest city since 2014. Residents there are guaranteed to elect a new mayor, as Rick Chrest is not up for re-election.
So are several other communities in the province, from Portage la Prairie and Dauphin in southwestern Manitoba to Flin Flon, The Pas and Lynn Lake in the north.
Meanwhile, during the mayoral race in Winkler, a city in southern Manitoba, a city councilor will face a man who has failed to turn the community into a haven immune to pandemic restrictions.