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Almost 700,000 votes cast in record-breaking Alberta election advance polls

When five days of advance polls closed on Saturday, 696,000 Albertans had cast their ballots — a new record for the province.

That’s almost triple the amount of ballots cast in the 2015 election advance polls, when about 235,000 people voted early, according to Elections Alberta. In 2008, about 64,000 people voted in the advance polls.

“It’s definitely a historic turnout,” said Pamela Renwick, director of operations and communications with Elections Alberta.

“Really an amazing turnout and we’re all very impressed here.”

While there are many factors affecting voter turnout in any given election, Renwick said she believes the convenience of advance polls led to greater voter turnout.

For the first time, voters could cast their ballot in the advance polls anywhere in the province. A voter could show up at any polling station and have a ballot showing candidates in their riding printed for them.

There were also more advance polling stations in Alberta this election cycle. Voters could cast their vote at 268 different locations, compared to 161 in 2015.

“We were at a lot of work camps, campuses and lots of places where we thought people would be, like the rec centres, the malls and airports,” Renwick said.

Ballots cast in the advance polls by voters at their designated polling place will be counted among the ballots submitted on election day, Renwick said. Votes cast at polling stations outside of a voter’s designated polling place, like at an airport or work camp, will be sorted by Elections Alberta and then counted in the correct electoral divisions.

This sorting and counting will start on Wednesday, the day after the election, and is expected to end Saturday, Renwick said. Due to the large amount of ballots already cast, this could take longer than expected, she added.

Unlike the advance polls, Albertans will need to cast their vote at their assigned voting station on election day.

There are around 2.6 million Albertans registered to vote. Election day is Tuesday, April 16.

“For every address, there is only one location they can be. Vote anywhere no longer applies,” Renwick said.

“We just want to make sure that people heading out to vote on election day find the right location.”

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