In Newton, Cliff and Marlene Heatley (left) stand outside the voting place at W.E. Kinvig Elementary with their neighbour, Frank Lucia, early Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

SURREY ELECTION

‘The numbers are strong,’ Surrey’s chief election officer says

Civic election voting places will remain open until 8 p.m. tonight

Surrey voters are heading to the polls in strong numbers today, according to Tony Capuccinello Iraci, the city’s chief election officer.

“I can say we’re at around 40,000 votes right now,” Iraci said at 1:45 p.m., “and that’s not including the advance numbers, so in total we’re around 60,000 at the moment.”

Iraci will spend Saturday making sure the 2018 civic election runs well in Surrey.

“Things are smooth right now, but there are always little glitches here and there, and I think we have one machine being serviced right now at Semiahmoo,” he explained. “We have an emergency compartment for the ballots when that issue arises, and when the machine is up and running again, those ballots are fed in at the end of the day, so that’s nothing unusual. That’s one incident, and I’m hearing this a few minutes ago, from the technicians.”

Earlier in the day, the voting location at Sullivan Heights Secondary opened a few minutes late, he said.

“There was a problem with one machine there but we had two, so there was no disruption,” Iraci said. “But other than a few minor things like that, everything seems to be running smoothly.”

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Voters in Surrey will elect a mayor, eight councillors and six school trustees. Polls opened today at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

There are 57 voting locations in Surrey, including nine in Whalley, nine in Guildford, six in Fleetwood, 14 in Newton, six in Cloverdale and 13 in South Surrey. CLICK HERE to see the list of locations posted at surrey.ca.

The City of Surrey’s website features a Voting Locations Map that displays a coloured indicator ranging from green (not busy) to red (very busy) showing, in real time, estimated wait times for voters to cast their ballot. Green indicates a wait time of zero to 15 minutes, and red shows wait times of more than 45 minutes.

Iraci said he’s heard positive feedback about the map.

“That’s nice, and I think people are taking advantage of going to less-busy polls,” he said. “It’s easy, just go to the website and you can see polls in green. I am looking at it right now and there’s just one showing red, at Guildford, and that’s pretty good out of 57 locations we have today.”

Iraci said he estimates polling stations will be busiest after lunch and again after dinner.

“That’s hard to predict,” he noted.

“At this pace, I would expect it’s going to be a high turnout, relative to previous civic elections here. The election in 2014 was considered a high turnout, so it may be that we match that, but it’s still relatively early today. The rate could change, and some of this is guesswork.”

Today’s relatively good weather could bring out voters, he said.

“That will depend on the voter, but I do know that on a good day I like to go out and exercise my right to vote,” Iraci added. “I do think the electorate is engaged because the numbers are strong, so we’re happy with that and we’re happy with how things have gone so far, and we’re hoping that continues for the next six hours here.”

At the polling station at W.E. Kinvig Elementary in Newton, Cliff Heatley went to vote alongside his wife, Marlene, at around 1 p.m., and they bumped into a neighbour, Frank Lucia, on the school grounds.

Cliff said he “felt a bit overwhelmed” by the election “because so many people were running, it was a job to keep track of it all.

“There are certain people, a couple, I did want to vote for, not everybody, so I wanted to make sure those people got my vote,” Cliff said. “I didn’t vote for a mayor.

“I wish we had taken in a debate, and I would have gone to one of those,” he added.

Lucia said his “biggest disappointment this year is I had very little information to go in there with,” he said. “The election kind of popped up, and they could have spent a bit more time telling people who they are and what these people stand for and all the rest of it.”

Lucia’s daughter, Margaret, voted as her father chatted outside the polling station.

“I vote in every election, yes,” she said minutes later, “because we have that right and we have that duty,” she said.

Margaret said she felt “somewhat” engaged in the election campaign this time around.

“It’s something you have to seek out, that information, if you want it,” she said. “I did spend some time to research the different candidates.”

At Boundary Park Elementary, Kaium Mohammed voted where his kids once went to school.

“I’ve lived here 25 years – more than 25 years,” he said.

”I just want to make sure that the integrity and ideology of the community is kept, that we take care of the social needs, and that starts from the ground level,” Mohammed said about the election. “We fell in love with this area, and we don’t want it to go away. If we ignore that and don’t vote, it could, and we vote people in to work for us.”

As for campaign issues, Mohammed said policing was an important one for him.

“That’s been established, so I want to keep the RCMP, yes,” he said.

“I think people were confused by the issues this time,” he added, “and the few weeks of the election wasn’t enough. It was too short to bring all the issues out, and one or two debates isn’t enough. I did some research, but it was difficult to get to know the candidates.

“I voted for a refresh, a refresh button. I do enjoy where Surrey is going, and we have to keep it that way. I think Surrey does a pretty good job with everything.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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