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People line up outside a polling station to vote in Canada's federal election, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 20, 2021.MARK BLINCH/Reuters

In Toronto, loose, socially distanced lines stretched down the block. In Alberta and rural Ontario, some polls opened late because election workers didn’t show up. In Edmonton, a couple clashed with election workers over mask requirements, then left after police were called.

But over all, a challenging pandemic Election Day wrapped up without any of the serious issues that had been predicted and only scattered reports of lengthy waits, minor incidents or other disruptions.

George Walker, who voted in Toronto on Monday afternoon, said casting his ballot took about 15 minutes longer than in the past, but that it otherwise went smoothly and the safety precautions taken at the polling station were “wise.”

Another voter, Shannon Fernandez, said the experience was easy, straightforward and “stress free.”

“I felt like it was very well organized,” she added. “No complaints at all.”

Signs had pointed to the possibility of a difficult and complex voting day, as Elections Canada struggled to deal with a shortage of election workers, a significantly reduced number of polling stations, possible delays caused by pandemic protocols and the spectre of potential disruptions by protesters.

But while there were about 1,178 fewer voting sites than the 2019 federal election, a record-breaking estimated 6.8 million people voted ahead of time, either in advance polls or with mail-in ballots, taking some pressure off in-person polls. There are about 30 million eligible voters in Canada.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Erin O’Toole voted in person with their families on Monday, while NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said they’d voted in advance polls and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul said she voted by mail.

Elections Canada has said mail-in ballots won’t be counted until after polls close, meaning results in close races may not be confirmed for several days.

Among the issues reported by Elections Canada in Ontario on Monday was that polling in Brantford-Brant had to be relocated after being disrupted by a protest by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, which spoke out last week against putting a polling station on what it considers its traditional territory; and additional arrangements were made to address the volume of people at polling sites in the Toronto ridings of Eglinton-Lawrence and University-Rosedale.

Elsewhere, two rural polls in Kenora, Ont., and two polls in First Nations communities in Grand Prairie, Alta., opened late because of issues with election workers and building access. A polling location in riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley in northern British Columbia had not opened by midday. Online, Elections Canada reported “intermittent technical difficulties” with the Voter Information Service area of its website and said it was looking into “high call volumes” in certain electoral districts.

But while long or slow lines were reported in some places – including Quispamsis, N.B., where about a dozen people waited outside a church to vote an hour before polls closed – in other places, voters reported near-empty polling sites, and voting moved quickly.

Elections Canada spokesperson Matthew McKenna told The Globe and Mail before Election Day that staff had been training and preparing for a number of challenging scenarios, including potential disruptions by anti-maskers at polling sites. (Masks were only required in places with provincial mask orders in effect, and proof-of-vaccination regulations did not apply at polling stations.)

In one incident at a polling station in the Alberta riding of Edmonton Manning, police reported that a couple got into a dispute with election workers over wearing masks, which are currently mandated in the province. ”Police arrived and spoke with the two individuals, and they were respectfully asked to leave the school,” a police statement about the incident read. “The man and woman fully co-operated with police and left the school.”

In Montreal, several people were treated for injuries after being hit by a car in a polling station parking lot. Media there reported that police believed it to be an accident, and none of the injuries was thought to be life-threatening.

There appeared to be no other serious incidents or issues reported by late Monday evening. Lineups remained at some sites across the country as polls were set to close, but Elections Canada said people who were in line before closing time would be able to vote.

With reports from Greg Mercer and The Canadian Press

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