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I'm looking to put the wait times at polling places during the 2020 US Presidential election in context. So for comparison I'd like any information about wait times for voters in other elections outside the US during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The closest matching elections seem to be:

Which ones of these, if any, experienced severe delays or waits for voters or problems that prevented people voting?

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  • Answers are going to depend on what area of the country you live in as some areas you can walk in and vote with no wait and other areas you have a multi hour wait.
    – Joe W
    Oct 22 '20 at 23:13
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    @JoeW I think this question is asking about elections this year outside the US, to get a sense for what amount of wait times could be expected just from COVID-19 and what is due to other factors acting in the US.
    – divibisan
    Oct 22 '20 at 23:25
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    @DJClayworth, Sorry My Bad, It should be more votes have been cast in 5 states than trump received in those states in 2016. Which is still amazing. washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/10/21/…
    – user20338
    Oct 22 '20 at 23:47
  • @divibisan That would still depend on where they live as I am guessing some areas are setup to allow for speedy voting and others are not.
    – Joe W
    Oct 22 '20 at 23:58
  • there are also some German local elections coming up (8 november, Oberbürgermeisterwahl)
    – Federico
    Oct 24 '20 at 9:09
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Longest time I've ever had to wait in an Australian election is 20 minutes, under 5 minutes is typical.

A colleague of mine voted in the Eden Monero by election on July 4th. Described the wait time as zero. Poll booth within walking distance, walk right up to the desk to get your name crossed off the register, and have your ballot within 30 seconds of getting to the building.

30 seconds of numbering the boxes in preference order, put it in the box, and then walked out. They described the lack of a sausage sizzle due to covid as the most traumatic thing about it.

I don't have any hard numbers to back up the wait times because they were so short they weren't measured - but we can see that traffic per polling station was minimal from the AEC website, which breaks the results down by polling location. You can see that linked polling centre got under 1000 votes cast over the 8 hour day, averaging about 2 voters per minute. This one had 1 per minute.


The ACT election was held on 27th September, with plans to get so much prepolling done they were aiming for zero queues. Typical voters per polling booth in that election were between a few hundred to a few thousand.

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    This answer appears to be based on personal anecdotes. It could be improved by showing some statistics that this is the regular experience of Australian voters and not just the experience of two people. The AEC statistic about how many people voted per minute doesn't say much about how long these people waited either.
    – Philipp
    Oct 23 '20 at 10:54
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    @Philipp The actual voting process takes a minute or two, and a polling station has many voting booths and ballot boxes. So if the rate is one or two a minute then the vast majority of people had virtually no wait time: abc.net.au/news/image/10047364-3x2-940x627.jpg Oct 23 '20 at 12:51
  • You might want to explain about the sausage sizzle. I believe it's normal for sausages to be available (sold?) at the exit to poll stations in Australia. Oct 23 '20 at 18:38
  • @DJClayworth en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_sausage
    – Ash
    Oct 23 '20 at 18:39
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Not exactly a total match to your question, but...

Foreign coverage:

The BBC : US election 2020: World reaction to long queues of voters in US.

Early voters in U.S. facing long lines, COVID-19 concerns

The gist of foreign coverage is a distinct perception that, at least in some states, the voting procedures aren't what one would expect of a country like the US, in terms of logistics or aiming to facilitate speedy voting by as many eligible voters as possible, which should be the aim of any worthy electoral commission.

My (anecdotal?) experience

Also, for what it's worth, just voted Tuesday in BC, Canada's provincial election on Monday (which puts me in advance in-person vote - actual vote is 24th).

5-8 minutes, most of which were spent waiting for the volunteer to fish my name out of the computer system - I just came in with a driver's license, without bothering to pick up my election card at home before dropping in. Guy was a bit slow, normally they get it right away, so that would have been 2-3 minutes.

No queues to speak of.

Logistics put in place

Vancouver, with 630K people, has (eyeballing it), about 30 advance vote spots (the link is to the official instructions on where to find booths with "Vancouver" being 1 city, West /North V. 2 different ones). The spot I was at had about 6-10 voting lanes, only 2-3 of which were manned at the time (normal as there was no lineup and few people there).

Since ballot content can affect time: there was only 1 subject on the ballot, for the local MLA (think of them as House Congress persons), with 5-6 names IIRC.

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    This answer appears to be based on personal anecdotes. It could be improved by showing some statistics that this is the regular experience of Canadian voters and not just the experience of one person.
    – Philipp
    Oct 23 '20 at 10:53
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    It definitely is the regular Canadian experience. At least outside of Covid-19 Canadian voters who waited ten minutes would think they had a long delay. Here's a survey that somewhat backs this up: elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=rec/eval/pes2011/… Oct 23 '20 at 12:47
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    @Philipp Perhaps to my experience, which is anecdotal but not necessarily unrepresentative. But the BBC article covers foreign perception and I've included logistical information about the means put in place to serve 650K people. That compares rather favorably to BBC coverage of some US setups: 1 drop off point for 4M people in Texas. Oct 23 '20 at 15:20

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