Municipal elections are underway across Manitoba and voters, such as Mila Rapajon, went to the polls Wednesday to cast a vote.
“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 ballot at a polling station inside the Maples Community Centre in northwest Winnipeg.
Despite her conviction about her civic duty, she was not certain about 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 forget all about it. So when I vote, I guess: eeny, meeny, miny, moe.”
Polling stations — 198 of them — opened at 8 a.m. at sites across the provincial capital and closed at 8 p.m.
CBC will host a live Winnipeg election results show, which you can watch on our website, our Facebook page and on CBC TV and CBC Gem. Programming is scheduled from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. but will go longer, if necessary.
Like Rapajon, Henry Dow asserted the need to mark a ballot.
“Of course it’s important to vote. It’s the only way I’ve got any say in it, in our system,” he said outside the Maples polling station.
Asked what changes he’s looking forward to seeing, 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’ve got no room to cry” when decisions you don’t agree with are made by the elected officials, he said.
“People fought wars so we could vote. That’s why I vote,” said Colleen Kroeker, his wife.
A sample notice the city made up as an example included 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 out to the polls, right? That’s what I’m all about,” Lemoine said.
People in Winnipeg will be choosing a new mayor for the first time since 2014 and a record number already cast their ballots in advance polling.
There was also an increase in the number of people voting by mail, with about 800 this year compared to 200 in the last civic election, Lemoine said.
Adele and Sheldon Globerman, who voted in The Maples, applauded the efforts to increase voting opportunities through advance polls in shopping malls and other public places, but they would also like the opportunity to vote online.
“You can do everything else online these days. You should be able to vote as well,” Sheldon Globerman said.
Voting machines tested
Prior to polls opening for Wednesday, election officials tested all the city’s voting machines with 50,000 premarked ballots — and the results were perfect, Lemoine said.
“So we’re very confident in terms of the results coming out of those machines,” he said.
Ballot counting started after polls closed at 8 p.m., Lemoine said, beginning with advance ballots, then moving on to votes cast on election day.
Once results are in at each station, election workers will drive the final results over to city hall — then they get posted online.
First results are expected between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m., while the bulk of the results are expected by around 9:15 p.m., Lemoine said. All the results should be in by around 9:45 p.m.
Five of the candidates also participated in CBC’s mayoral candidates debate last week, which you can watch here.
New councillors coming
On top of electing a new mayor, Winnipeggers also voted for city councillors in 13 of 15 wards.
The other two were elected by acclamation after no one ran against them.
Wards with races include Transcona, where a sitting councillor faces his predecessor, and Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood and St. James, where the competitions are wide open because their incumbents are running for mayor — meaning Winnipeg is guaranteed to get at least two new councillors.
The other wards that will elect councillors 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’s running for school trustee in Winnipeg on the city’s website.
Those races haven’t been without controversy. It’s believed at least a dozen people running for school trustee positions in Winnipeg are vocal critics of pandemic-era restrictions, some of whom gained widespread notoriety for their dissent.
Concerns have also been raised about Manitoba’s election laws related to school trustee races, since the current rules don’t require disclosure about who’s financing a campaign.
Rural races heating up
Almost half of Manitoba’s municipalities holding elections this year will see their head of council — either mayors or reeves — elected by acclamation.
But the city of Brandon is among 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 isn’t running for re-election.
So are several other communities across the province, from Portage la Prairie and Dauphin in southwest Manitoba to Flin Flon, The Pas and Lynn Lake in the north.
Meanwhile, the mayoral race in the southern Manitoba city of Winkler will see a city councillor face off against a man who failed to turn the community into a sanctuary city immune from pandemic restrictions.
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