Elections Canada is ramping up its plan to run a pandemic election that could come as early as this fall, including a possible two-day weekend voting period instead of the traditional one-day Monday vote.
The move would help enable physical distancing between voters and allow greater access to polling locations, such as schools, that would otherwise be unavailable, according to new information on the agency’s website.
Elections Canada says it’s also working on ways to serve voters in long-term care facilities by increasing the number of voting days and tailoring the approach to each facility.
The agency is also considering ways to meet potential demand for mail-in ballots. For example, ballots sent in before the voting deadline could continue to be accepted until the day following the two-day weekend polling period, but the agency warns an increase in mail-in voting could cause a delay in tabulating results.
Under the heading “approach to a possible fall election,” Elections Canada says if an election were to be called before the proposed measures are fully implemented or passed by Parliament, the agency would focus on physical distancing and other public health guidelines at polling stations and elections offices, including providing protective equipment for workers.
“Given the current minority government, an election could take place at any time,” the website reads.
Some of the measures already in the works by Elections Canada include:
- Implementing physical distancing and other public health guidelines at polling places and local Elections Canada offices.
- Buying masks and single-use pencils to be given to voters. Voters will also have the option to bring their own mask, pen or pencil.
- Changing the agency’s model of operations to reduce the number of workers needed in order to facilitate physical distancing.
- Eliminating the Vote on Campus program, since most colleges and universities are delivering programs online.
- Expanding virtual training for electoral workers to limit the number of in-person interactions.