The weather was gloomy and the crowds were thin at polling stations around the city this morning as Manitobans choose their next provincial government.
Candice Haight was one of a handful of voters who stopped by the St. James Civic Centre shortly after polls opened at 8 a.m. She decided to cast a ballot on her way to work and was in and out of the building with an "I Voted" sticker quickly. "Short" is also her impression of the four-week campaign period leading up to the 42nd general election.
"I think it was pretty short and sweet," Haight said. "I just think it was more mudslinging, and I thought a lot of people weren’t talking about definite change, it was more general terms."
Haight, who voted for Progressive Conservative candidate Michelle Richard, said health care was a top priority for her during this election.
Wesley Dagg opted to vote first thing in the morning after getting off a night shift. He voted for St. James NDP candidate Adrien Sala but said he hasn’t been very interested in the provincial campaign.
"Honestly, I’m so distracted by U.S. politics that I didn’t pay super-close attention to it," he said.
Voting went smoothly, but enthusiasm was lacking amongst most voters the Free Press spoke with.
Over in the the new Roblin constituency, which includes Charleswood and much of Headingley, Carlie McDougall said she was glad the campaign was coming to an end. She wasn’t a fan of PC Leader Brian Pallister's decision to move the election date up a by a year or the fact the majority of campaigning took place during the fleeting days of summer.
"I was at the cabin all summer, so I wasn’t paying attention to it," McDougall said.
Charleswood has always been a PC stronghold, and incumbent Myrna Driedger has held her seat in the constituency since 1998. McDougall, however, said she wasn’t impressed with the way the PC party’s leader approached campaigning.
"I didn’t feel it was fair that Pallister didn’t show up to a lot of the (debates)," she said. "It feels like Pallister knew it was time to call an election and felt like he had the upper hand, and let’s hope Winnipeggers show how they feel."
In Wolseley, those who told the Free Press who they voted for were split between NDP candidate Lisa Naylor and the Green Party’s David Nickarz.
Despite being out of province for most of the campaign, Alice Zador said this has been the provincial election she's paid the most attention to.
"This was the first time in my young adult life that a lot of it applied to me," she said, adding she voted NDP because she was impressed by the party’s platforms on the environment and education.
Area resident Caroline Harkins is a longtime NDP supporter but decided to vote Green for the first time when she found out former MLA Rob Altemeyer wouldn’t be running for another term.
"When things seem a little up in the air, that’s when you vote for the black sheep," she said.
The Green party’s James Beddome was the last of the main party leaders to cast a ballot late this morning. The Fort Rogue candidate is the only leader who lives in the riding where he is running.
Pallister, NDP Leader Wab Kinew and Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont — along with more than 113,000 other Manitobans — voted during advanced polling from Aug. 29 to Sept. 5.
Polling stations across the province are open until 8 p.m.
Eva Wasney reports on arts, culture and life for the Winnipeg Free Press.