Advance polls for the federal election open Friday at 9 a.m., but there are some differences from years past, Elections Canada spokesperson Réjean Grenier says.
"People, particularly this year, should really have a good look at their voter information card because the polls that they will be directed to — and people can only vote at that one poll — that poll might actually be different from where they voted over the years. And it's all thanks to COVID," Grenier said in an interview.
In the past, polling stations may have been held at schools or community buildings, but Grenier says that due to COVID-19 protocols, it has meant many schools can't be used and some landlords didn't want electors in their buildings, he said.
"It means that you may be going to a different poll location. Make sure you know where it is. It might also be a little further than usual."
The advance polls are open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Elections Canada's does not post a list of polling locations, Grenier said, because people are supposed to go to their assigned location on their voter information card. People can also look up their polling location by putting their postal code into the Election's Canada website.
If they have not yet received that card in the mail, they can call their riding's returning office to find out where they should go to cast a ballot. The phone number for riding returning offices can be found on the Elections Canada website.
Take ID and a mask
When heading to an advance poll, Grenier says people should take their voter information card along with identification, such as a driver's license.
The voter information card "doesn't serve as an ID piece at the poll, but it makes [the process] much quicker because the poll people can just look at it and say, 'Oh yeah, OK, boom, you go to this poll," he said.
If a person's identification doesn't include their address, such as a health card, then they should also take an official piece of mail, like a hydro bill, that's been mailed to their address to prove where they live.
"The last thing that people have to remember is bring a mask because [for] people in Ontario, there's a mask mandate," he said.
"Elections Canada respects the local mandates. Voters will have to wear a mask to go and vote. If they don't have one, Elections Canada has quite a few."
Special ballot deadline Tuesday
People can still vote by special ballot at their riding's returning office until 6 p.m. on Tuesday (Sept. 14). That's also the deadline for people to apply for a mail-in ballot.
Grenier notes the special ballot does not have a list of candidates. Instead, voters will need to know the full name and spelling of the candidate they want to vote for and fill that in the box.
People cannot just write the name of a party on a special ballot.
"You have to remember that in Canada, we don't vote for a leader of a party or we don't vote for a party. We vote for a local candidate. So you have to know who your local candidate is," he said.