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Elections Canada working to ensure wildfire evacuees can vote; no vaccines required for poll workers

Mask requirements will depend on local rules
FILE – Voters head to cast their ballot in Canada’s federal election at the Fairbanks Interpretation Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., on October 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The agency carrying out Canada’s 44th federal elections in just over a month will not require their poll workers to be vaccinated but will enforce mask wearing for voters in jurisdictions that require it.

During a Wednesday (Aug. 18) press conference, chief electoral officers Stéphane Perrault said that no one at the polls, either voters or staff, will need to be vaccinated. Perrault noted that the people working the polls are the same individuals that voters come across in their day-to-day lives, but with one key difference.

“The difference is that the polls are a controlled environment, where safety measures can be applied more rigorously,” he said. “If you look back, we’ve had elections in Canada provincially, we’ve had territorial elections… there has not been outbreaks of COVID as a result of in-person voting.

Perrault said that the safety measures for this election have been “discussed with public health authorities across the country on all levels, and we’ll continue to adjust those measures.”

But how voting looks like will differ slightly from province to province with masks for voters being required – or not – per local health rules. Masks will be encouraged at every polling station and offered to those who do not have them. Other safety measures include single-use pencils – or voters may bring their own – and mandatory masks and face shields for poll workers.

Voters in parts of Interior B.C., where fires are raging and thousands of homes are on evacuation order or alert, are part of Elections Canada’s plans.

“As the situation evolves in the election, we’ll adapt voting to ensure there are voting options for every Canadian,” Perrault said.

Individuals may also find themselves at a different polling station than they have in previous years, but Perrault said anyone who has trouble getting to their polling location should contact Elections Canada. Mail-in voting is also expected to be more popular this year with up to three million expected to choose that option, and will likely lead to delayed results.

However, people who opt to vote by mail will not simply be able to change their mind and go in person to ensure that no one is able to vote twice. You can apply to vote by mail at: Advance voting will also be available, similarly to past elections.

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