After what must seem like an eternity for some candidates and campaign workers, a total of 161 municipalities will hold elections today across Manitoba.
According to the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, of the 197 incorporated municipalities in Manitoba, 33 have already determined their councils through acclamation, and three resort communities -- the Village of Dunnottar, Town of Winnipeg Beach and RM of Victoria Beach -- held their elections in July.
But for the rest of us, today is the day.
We envy those voters in the resort communities who were able to cast their vote in the middle of summer, as the season's first major blast of winter weather is set to hit Westman today.
Pundits love to debate who benefits most from bad weather on election day -- the incumbents or their challengers. But in the end, it really just comes down to which candidate can best get their vote out.
And we suggest that's the same in fair weather or foul.
What we know for sure is that unless the conditions are simply treacherous, all eligible citizens should make every attempt to get out to vote.
We are lucky to live in a democracy and the right to choose who our leaders are is a cornerstone of that system of governing.
As reported earlier, the city's senior elections official, Heather Ewasiuk, predicted that based on high numbers at the advance polls, the number of eligible voters casting a ballot in Brandon could reach the 50 per cent mark.
The 2006 municipal election in Brandon saw 47 per cent of eligible voters show up at the polls.
Let's show everyone that democracy is alive and well in Brandon and Westman and that a little inclement weather won't keep us from marking our Xs on the ballots.
Speaking of which, the city has leased 30 automatic vote tabulators from Toronto-based Dominion Voting to provide a faster, more accurate method of tabulating the votes.
So we're promised by Ewasiuk that after the polls close tonight, all the tabulators' memory cards will be uploaded for almost instantaneous election results.
"As soon as the polls close, it starts running that tabulation tape instantly," Ewasiuk said. "There's absolutely no reason that we shouldn't have all (the results) in by 9 p.m."
Of course, the Sun's experienced team of reporters, photographers and editors will be working the phones in the newsroom and be with the two main contenders for the mayor's chair -- incumbent Dave Burgess and challenger Shari Decter Hirst -- as the results come in. Results in that race and those for city councillor and Brandon School Division trustees will be instantly available online at brandonsun.com, with full stories, reaction and commentary online and in print tomorrow.
We will also be following up in Friday's paper with more analysis and reaction from races across Westman.
Ewasiuk says it would take a full-scale blizzard that brings Brandon to a standstill to close today's municipal elections polls.
So barring that, we hope everyone who can gets out and votes.
We also wish the best to everyone who's let their name stand for any level of office across the region. We also would like to congratulate all the incumbents who were returned to office unchallenged.
Polls are open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m tonight. Voters, registered or not, are required to bring valid identification.
A full list of polling locations is available at brandonsun.com.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 27, 2010 A9