WINNIPEG — Close to 450 voters cast an advance ballot this weekend in the Fort Whyte byelection — pleasantly surprising election officials.
Amid concerns that a late-summer byelection would deter voter turnout, polling officers Don and Brenda Gibson said they were pleasantly surprised at the constant stream of voters.
“It’s been pretty steady. Yesterday was hugely busy,” Brenda Gibson said Sunday from the Lindenwoods Community Centre polling station.
“There were over 200 people just at this location, which is more than we were expecting. We’ve had beautiful sunny days, a little windy, but people have still been coming in to vote and happy to do so,” Don Gibson said.
Rita Serbin, returning officer for the riding, said that 305 people turned up Saturday during the 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. voting hours, while 142 voted on Sunday during its noon to 6 p.m. voting hours.
Premier Greg Selinger called the byelection on Aug. 3 after former provincial PC leader Hugh McFadyen resigned, giving candidates five weeks to campaign in the southwest Winnipeg suburban riding.
Leann Smith voted Sunday at the Lindenwoods Community Centre. Smith said she didn’t mind the August election and likes that it will get her riding’s candidate elected sooner.
“There’s enough pre-voting days that I think should be able to cover everybody, even cottagers,” Smith said.
Fort Whyte has been a decidedly Tory riding since 1999, the year it was created, which could bode well for newly acclaimed PC leader and candidate Brian Pallister.
Jim and Elsie Forsyth stopped by the community centre on Sunday to try to beat the lines. Although they wouldn’t disclose who they were voting for, they said they don’t foresee their riding slipping out of the Tories’ firm grasp.
“Not likely. Folks here generally stay the same,” Elsie Forsyth said Sunday before casting her vote.
Though the results may not be a surprise, independent nominee Darrell Ackman’s candidacy was a shock to the Forsyths.
Ackman was charged earlier this year with allegedly recruiting girls to appear in porn and work in the sex trade. He is currently out on bail and has a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.
“He should not be allowed to run. If he gets elected, I’m moving,” Jim Forsyth said.
Brandy Schmidt is running for the NDP, Bob Axworthy for the Liberals and Donnie Benham for the Greens.
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 27, 2012