'Absolutely insane' lineup makes it impossible for some to vote in nailbiter Quebec riding
MONTREAL -- Quebecers confronted long lineups Monday at some of the province's polling stations, including one in a very hotly contested riding just north of Montreal.
And at least one voter wasn't able to cast a ballot because the lineups were so unexpectedly long in the town of Blainville, Que., which seemed to have the most dramatic crowds.
"It's really disappointing. I'm really upset about it," said Anna, one Blainville voter, who didn't want her last name published.
"I never would have made a stink about it ... but when something isn't fair, it isn't fair."
Anna, 36, lives a two-minute drive from the park where the Blainville polling station was located, but it took her two hours to vote: 30 minutes to find parking, then a long walk to the end of the line, then more than an hour to reach the polling station.
The situation in Blainville was so bad that police arrived to do crowd control.
The problem for Anna was that her husband never got to vote, because it took her so long -- he had stayed home with their four children and the two of them were planning to trade off, with him leaving to vote after she came back.
She left home at 7:30 p.m. thinking there would be plenty of time for both of them before polls closed at 9:30 p.m., but he never got to go.
"We voted Liberal, and it was important for him to vote Liberal as well and now his voice can't be heard. And he's pretty upset about it, honestly," said Anna on Monday night.
Another Blainville voter, Philippe Ahmaranian, also said he planned to cast a ballot but didn't end up doing so after encountering the lineup.
"I turned back," he said.
A TIGHT RACE BETWEEN LIBERALS AND BLOC
The Thérèse-De Blainville riding is a tight battle between the Bloc incumbent, Louise Chabot, and her Liberal challenger, Ramez Ayoub.
Prior to the 2019 election, however, Ayoub was the MP for the area, losing by only about 3,500 votes in that election. The riding is one that both parties are struggling hard to keep or win back, respectively.
Residents in Blainville, a suburb north of Montreal with a population of about 56,000, said that for some reason, the usual polling stations in the town were consolidated into a single one.
Elections Canada says that anyone who manages to get in line at any polling station by the official cutoff time for votes may still cast a ballot.
However, that didn't help Anna and her husband, who confirmed to CTV that he wasn't able to vote.
After casting a ballot at about 9:15 and racing home, she arrived at around the cutoff time of 9:30, too late for him to try to get there in time to line up.
Anna said the scene was shocking and a far cry from every other voting experience she'd had in Blainville, which have all taken just a few minutes.
"It seemed like all of Blainville was there," she said.
As she approached the area, a police officer waved her over, told her to park several blocks away and keep walking to reach the end of the lineup.
There were multiple lines, each with different numbers, but it was chaotic, she said.
When she got to the polling station she tried to estimate how long the lineup was.
"Behind me there must have been between 1,500 to 2,000 people. It was absolutely insane," she said.
Inside, it was also chaotic, with the election staff overrun.
"The poor girl, she was sweating," Anna said. "I heard there was supposed to be a lot of ventilation in there -- well, I don't think there was."
Anna mentioned how bad things were outside, and the election worker apologized, she said, and said "I don't even know what to tell you."
It's unclear why there were fewer polling stations than usual this year in Blainville.
Blainville police said that despite dispatching officers for crowd control, the situation went smoothly and there were no disturbances. At 9:45 p.m., an officer estimated there were only about 30 people left in line.
Anna disputed that, saying there's no way all those in line when she left could have been processed in half an hour. "It is absolutely impossible," she said.
Several people estimated on social media that the lineup was as couple of hours long.
When asked how much it would delay poll results, Elections Canada spokesperson Pierre Pilon said he thought it wasn't that long.
"A waiting time of two hours appears a bit overstated," he wrote.
"No matter what, if you are in line by 9:30 we will take the time it takes to accept your vote."
LONG LINEUPS IN MONTREAL
In the Montreal area, long lineups were also reported in the Laurier-Sainte-Marie riding.
People took to social media to share photos of several people waiting in line, with some reporting wait time of 90 minutes to two hours to cast a ballot.
"I've tried three times to come and the lineup was always long. How many poll stations? Why didn't they think, during a pandemic, they should add polling stations so that these lineups would not take place?" Margherita M. Morsella told CTV News while in the lineup to vote Monday night.
"Many people will leave, many people will not vote."
In the same lineup, another voter said he came to vote at 4:30 and the lineup was wrapped around the block. "And, now, I came back at 8:30 and the lineup is even further around the block," he said.
"The lineup right now is longer, when the polling station is closed, as it was at 4:30 this afternoon."