Federal by-elections underway in Toronto and York Centre22 October 2020 / by Sam Dharmasena (author)
The mandate of Elections Canada is to deliver an election at any time, even during a pandemic. CJRU spoke with Natasha Gauthier of Elections Canada about the federal by-elections in Toronto Centre and York Centre.
Four days of advance polls concluded on Oct. 19 and Gauthier says Toronto Centre and York Centre had 6300 and 8000 voters respectively. For voters that are casting their ballot on Monday, Oct. 26, election day, the initial steps will look a little different from before. Polls will be open 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. As always, voters should bring their identification and voter information card if they have it. This time, Elections Canada will allow voters to bring their own pencils too.
Each polling location will be enforcing social distancing guidelines and providing masks and hand sanitizer for voters that need it. Gauthier says that the safety of poll workers, who tend to be older Canadians, has been a top priority during the planning process. Contact has been limited wherever possible. Poll workers will be working independently, rather than seated in pairs, and they will ask to see identification but will not take it from voters. Once voters reach the poll number box, the voting experience will feel more familiar.
Earlier this year, Elections Canada formed a working group to look at all the ways that the pandemic could impact the operations of an election. Gauthier says that they’ve been taking advice from public health authorities during this process. Elections Canada has also been looking to their counterparts in New Brunswick and British Columbia to gain more insight.
For the list of candidates and polling locations, visit the Elections Canada website. To hear more about planning an election amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and what voters can expect at the polls Toronto Centre and York Centre, listen to the interview below.