Election results won't be made public until lockdowns have been lifted

·3 min read
Voting in the Edmundston and the upper Madawaska regions has been suspended until the COVD-19 lockdown is lifted.  (Andrew Vaughan / Canadian Press - image credit)
Voting in the Edmundston and the upper Madawaska regions has been suspended until the COVD-19 lockdown is lifted. (Andrew Vaughan / Canadian Press - image credit)

Province-wide municipal election results will not be made public until elections in areas affected by regional lockdowns are complete, says New Brunswick's chief electoral officer.

That means it is unlikely that New Brunswickers will see results on May 10.

Voting in the Edmundston and the upper Madawaska regions has been suspended until the COVD-19 lockdown has been lifted in those areas.

Kim Poffenroth, New Brunswick's chief electoral officer, expects greater voter turnout this year because the election has been in the works for a year.
Kim Poffenroth, New Brunswick's chief electoral officer, expects greater voter turnout this year because the election has been in the works for a year. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

"If an area goes into lockdown, the legislation requires that the election activities be suspended in those areas until a lockdown is lifted," said Kim Poffenroth, during an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.

In March, the provincial government also passed legislation to allow the suspension of nominations and voting in a particular zone in the event of a lockdown.

The release of election results is also halted because district education council and regional health authority voting overlaps in areas that are both in and out of lockdown.

"You don't release results for a contest if people can still vote in that contest," she said.

Election 2 weeks away

Advance polls open this upcoming Saturday and Monday.

Election day is May 10, but no voting will take place in any zone under lockdown.

"As soon as the lockdown is lifted, election activities will resume," Poffenroth said.

"...For every week of lockdown , that means the election day itself will be delayed a week."

Once a lockdown has been lifted, returning offices will be reopened so residents can vote in person. Poll workers will be trained and voter information cards will be sent out.

What will voting look like?

Poffenroth said the voting process will be similar to New Brunswick's provincial election in September. Voters will be required to wear masks, sanitize their hands and practice physical distancing.

Voter information cards are expected to arrive in New Brunswick mailboxes Monday in zones not under lockdown. This will allow voters to be processed faster at the polls.

"Whether it's campaigning or any of the other day to day activities you're doing, you should be complying with whatever the public health guidelines are for your area," she said.

She said there have also been more candidates running in this year's municipal election compared to 2016.

"People are definitely interested in getting involved in the local decision making process."

"I think this last year has shown to everyone that important decisions are being made by all levels of government."

Expecting more voters

She also expects higher voter turnout this year because people are more aware of the upcoming election after it was postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2016, voter turnout hovered around 34.55 per cent. In 2012, the voter turnout was slightly higher at 35.5 per cent.

"The fact that this election has been delayed by a year has perhaps raised the awareness of the public in this election."