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Brutal lines could plague downtown Toronto polling stations on June 2

Downtown Toronto residents might want to set aside a bit of extra time for voting in the upcoming 2022 Ontario election, as a reduction in polling stations in one of the city's most densely-populated ridings could result in some very long lines.

Those casting their ballot on June 2 in Spadina-Fort York will have just 29 polling stations available, which is only 25 per cent of the 116 stations open to voters for the 2018 provincial election.

CBC reports that, according to Elections Ontario, the drop in polling stations is a measure to maintain social distancing. Although this seems counterintuitive, the thinking here is that using larger, technology-enabled polling stations with multiple booths improves efficiency.

Locations chosen for the select few polling stations like Metro Hall may have much higher capacity and tech capabilities than the single-booth stations found in many residential building common areas, but the reduction in locations means more people will have to contend with transit (including unmasked riders) and queue in line upon arriving.

If this all sounds eerily familiar, it's precisely the same story that played out during the 44th general election back in September. In the Spadina-Fort York riding, voters were still lined up to cast their ballots at midnight, polling extended due to the unprecedented queues formed around stations in the area.

Even during advance polling, lines snaked for blocks around voting stations, a predictable result of the reduced number of available stations.

The Don Valley North riding is facing an even sharper decline in available polling stations, with just 55 in 2022, dropping 32 per cent from the 81 stations made available to voters in 2018.

Spadina-Fort York's drop in the number of stations may not be as sharp as Don Valley North, but the former riding is home to much higher population densities than the latter, which could mean longer lines and possibly even the same extended polling hours seen in 2018.

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