'It's more convenient': Alberta advance vote numbers surge
Elections Alberta says more than 317,000 Albertans have voted so far in this week's advance vote, which is still on pace to break records.
Over the first two days of advance voting, 317,461 early ballots were cast, which is approximately 45 per cent of all advance ballots submitted in the 2019 general election.
According to Elections Alberta, more than 696,000 Albertans voted early that year.
Stephen Carter, president of political strategy company Decide Campaigns, says "advance votes are everything for this election."
"I think that shows how excited people are to vote," Carter said. "We've seen a shift to advance polls before.
"Over the last 10 years, you used to require a reason to vote in advance polls. Now you just go to advance polls because it's more convenient."
A lot of that comes from Election Alberta's Vote Anywhere concept that allows any Albertan to go to any advance poll in the province to cast their ballot.
"That is super easy for people," Carter said.
Carter says both Smith and Notley's campaign managers are reaching into every area they can for support.
"We saw Rachel Notley doing an event side-by-side with Danielle Smith last night: Smith was in Glenmore, Notley was in Acadia. Both of those ridings are absolutely essential."
Despite that vigor, neither party seems to be gaining much momentum, according to Carter.
"It's been a dog fight from day one of this campaign," he said.
"Two months prior to that, there's been negatives associated with both parties; tremendous challenges for each of the leaders as they push through and try to win this election."
The record for advance ballots was broken during the first two days of early voting, when approximately 276,000 votes were cast on Tuesday and Wednesday – more than the number cast during all four days of advance voting in the 2015 general election.
Advance voting is open until Saturday.
(With files from Jacqueline Wilson)