Increase in mail-in ballots expected for federal election due to COVID-19

·2 min read
Voters head into a polling station in Calgary Centre to cast their ballots in the 43rd federal election on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019.  (Lucie Edwardson/CBC - image credit)
Voters head into a polling station in Calgary Centre to cast their ballots in the 43rd federal election on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC - image credit)

Elections Canada is expecting more people to vote by mail in the federal election next month, and says those who vote in person can be assured that COVID-19 safety measures will be in place.

The election will be held Sept. 20.

The returning offices in P.E.I.'s four ridings are up and running, and the process is underway to hire staff for the polling stations, said Françoise Enguehard of Elections Canada.

Staff at the polling stations will be required to wear masks. Masks will be optional for voters unless public health measures change before the election.

Plexiglass dividers and signs that encourage physical distancing will be in place.

"The point here is that people should feel comfortable," Enguehard said.

Elections Canada does not require staff to be fully vaccinated, she said.

CBC/Zoom
CBC/Zoom

"Basically the people who work for Elections Canada are the same people that you meet in everyday life and as we all know they are a high percentage of people who are already vaccinated so it's not unlike going to a grocery store or a pharmacy, except in the case of the polling station or the EC office, they are in a very controlled environment and we will ensure that we meet or exceed the requirements."

She said any Elections Canada staff who go into seniors' homes for voting by special ballots or other places where vulnerable people are located would be required to be vaccinated.

Nonetheless, Enguehard said Elections Canada is expecting a larger number of mail-in ballots this election.

"We are ready at Elections Canada to deal with more mail-in ballots than we've ever seen because of people who are reluctant to go out, people who may be more, you know, vulnerable," she said.

"It is a very good option to vote without having to go out."

Those who would like to vote by mail can find instructions on the Elections Canada website. You must apply online for a mail-in ballot by Sept. 14, and return the ballot by election day. You can also go to an Elections Canada office in one of the four ridings and ask for a mail-in kit.

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