Voters brave the snow to get a head start on Olympic bid plebiscite

A steady stream of voters shuffled in and out of the Croatian Canadian Cultural Centre in northeast Calgary over lunchtime on Tuesday, casting their ballots in advance polls for the city’s Olympic plebiscite.

The non-binding vote asks Calgarians whether they are for or against Calgary hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Advance polls opened at 11 a.m. Tuesday, running until 7 p.m. Calgarians can cast their ballots during the same hours on Wednesday.

“I voted against it,” said Doug Workman, as he left the northeast polling station. He said they had a negative view when it comes to the financial prospect of hosting the Games.

“We can’t afford them,” he said.

The lineup included two-time Olympic gold medalist curler John Morris.

Raghbir Basati said he couldn’t wait to have his democratic say on Tuesday.

“I was very eager. I didn’t want to miss my vote. Even one vote can make a difference,” said Basati, a fan of hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics.

“It’s the only way to recognize Calgary in the world. People will know where Calgary is and it will bring lots of business,” he said. “(Others) are saying ‘oh, it will put Calgary’s finances in jeopardy.’ No it is a positive thing, it’s where the money should go.”

For the plebiscite, the city unveiled electronic tabulator machines to tally the results of the vote. But some early-bird voters reported problems with the machines, noting that ballots were being rejected which kept line-ups of people waiting at the Mckenzie Towne Hall voting station.

The City of Calgary said it was looking into the matter.

We have deployed additional resources to this voting station and are working to get people though the voting process in a timely manner,” it said in a statement. “Thank you for your patience.”

Lori Davidson said she was looking forward to all the Olympic chatter across the city coming to a close.

“It’s been annoying,” said Davidson, who voted No. “I think we had our glory days. People are trying to relive it and I don’t think you can.”

There is no need to register in advance to vote, as forms will be available at all voting stations. Once at the voting station, all voters will be required to sign a statement confirming they meet the qualifications to vote. This includes being at least 18 years old and a Canadian citizen, having resided in Alberta for at least six consecutive months before the plebiscite and being a current resident of a ward within Calgary.

Voters must provide authorized identification at the voting station, such as an Alberta driver’s licence or an Alberta Identification Card that confirms their name and current residential address.

Voters line up at the advance polling station in Bowness.

Those who will be away from Calgary on plebiscite day, as well as those who will be prevented from voting in person due to a physical incapacity, can also request a mail-in ballot online, by calling 403-476-4100, by faxing 403-476-4101 or by visiting the Elections and Census Office at 1103 55th Ave. N.E.

Requests for mail-in ballots must be received by noon on Nov. 13. Completed mail-in ballot packages must be received by the Elections and Census Office by 4 p.m. that day.

Voting station hours on the Nov. 13 plebiscite day are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find your nearest advance voting station, visit http://vote2018.calgary.ca/When-and-where-to-vote.html and enter your home address.

shudes@postmedia.com
Twitter.com/SammyHudes

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