Nearly 700,000 votes cast in Alberta election advance polls

WATCH: For the first time, voters in Alberta have been able to cast early votes in unusual places, such as at malls and airports. As Sarah Kraus reports, it's a change that's been credited for the record turnout in advance voting.

Saturday was the final day of advance voting in the 2019 Alberta spring election and after five days, 696,000 advance votes have been cast, according to Elections Alberta.

During the 2015 election, around 235,000 votes were cast in advance.

“We’re thrilled with the turnout at the advance polls this election,” Drew Westwater, deputy chief electoral officer for Alberta, said Saturday afternoon.

“We anticipated there would be more because there was an additional day of advance polling being added and because you could vote anywhere.”

READ MORE: Voter honesty urged after Edmonton man receives two voter cards in his name

In a new feature of this year’s advance polling, Alberta voters could cast ballots at any of the early voting stations in the province, not just the station in their own riding.

Elections Alberta reported that 223,000 “vote anywhere” ballots were cast in the advance polls.

“We’re very happy and excited by the turnout. We hope that translates on election day to increased turnout as well and more and more people participating in the electoral process is a good thing,” Westwater said.

WATCH: Hot button issues as Alberta goes to the polls

There were about 100 new locations for advance polls in malls, airports, recreation centres and even one in IKEA in Edmonton on Saturday.

“They’re getting their grocery shopping or they’re at the mall, wherever they are, they see there’s a poll and they say, ‘well it’s voting, I can pop in and get it done quickly while I’m here’,” Westwater said.

Voters will have to vote at the polling station in their riding on election day. You need to be at least 18 years old, a Canadian citizen and a resident of Alberta to vote.

READ MORE:  How, when, where to vote

Voters can sign a declaration to register to vote at the polling station if they haven’t registered already.

For more information on where to vote, Albertans can head to the Elections Alberta website.

WATCH: Freelance writer Jen Gerson joins Global News Calgary to discuss the latest in the 2019 provincial election campaign.

Election day is Tuesday, April 16.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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