Monday’s general election is going to be special. It will be held for the first time during a global pandemic – the Spanish flu crisis was booked by elections in 1917 and 1921 – and it raises two big questions: how the pandemic will affect voting, and what will be the effect of record use of specials. ballot?
On the first question, concerns about personal safety during the fourth wave of COVID-19, as well as the real possibility of historically long lineups at some polling stations, may cause some voters to stay home.
Voting has become a growing problem in Canada; in the last three federal elections one in three registered voters Never bothered to vote. Turnout this time around could be low, if recent provincial elections are any guide. Of the four held during the pandemic – three in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador – three saw a significant drop in voter participation.
Last week, Election Canada spokesman, Matthew McKenna, effectively lowered expectations when he warned that Election Day could be a long affair.
Thanks to a 36-day election period – the shortest possible under the law – and complications posed by the pandemic, Mr McKenna said Elections Canada was still shy of its staffing target of 40,000 polling workers, going last weekend.
There will be about 1,000 fewer polling stations nationwide on Election Day than in 2019, and the total number of polling places inside each polling place is also lower.
This is entirely because of the pandemic. Schools, apartment and condo lobbies, and other traditional spaces were unavailable, so Elections Canada scrambled to find alternatives.
In most cases, those alternatives were found. Many ridings will have little or no drop in the number of places to vote. But some voters, especially those in condo- and apartment-heavy Toronto rides, face a very different story. Toronto-Centre had 91 Election Day polling stations in 2019; This time it will be 15. Spadina-Fort York has dropped from 56 to 15. Universit-Rosedale has dropped from 69 to 23. Parkdale-High Park has grown from 69 to 33.
Other urban areas are also affected. The Winnipeg-North Riding is falling from 34 to 20 polling stations; North Vancouver fell from 40 to 23.
Those involved in these rides will face long distances to vote, and possibly long lineups. Voters will need a lot of patience – a resource that has already been depleted by the pandemic.
It would also require patience to figure out who won the election, because of the record high demand for special ballots from people who voted from inside their rides.
Special ballots, which are mailed or delivered to the Elections Canada office in a typical year, are usually attached to those who vote from overseas, or who are in their ride on regular or advance voting days. Can’t be.
There are usually not many people who vote by special ballot from inside their ride. In 2019, Number 397,000. Was, and their votes were counted on election night.
this year? more than one lakh local voters Asked for a special ballot. Between 5,000 and 10,000 such requests were seen in at least 35 rides. More than 706,000 of these ballots were returned to Elections Canada as of Friday – high rate of return – More will come on Monday; Unusually this year, local voters can leave a special ballot at any polling station in their ride on Election Day.
But this time, Elections Canada won’t start counting those ballots until Tuesday. That means Monday night is likely to end with some races, and possibly the election as a whole, still undecided. It could take several days before the winner is declared in Riding, and thousands of special ballots are yet to be counted.
In an election in which another minority government is likely to be formed, every seat will be important. And, as a result, every vote will be like that.
Before the campaign began, an Election Canada poll found that 67.8 percent of eligible voters said they would definitely vote if the situation was right. and an approximate 5.78 million voters cast their vote in advance Last week – a record number, and an increase of 18.5 percent compared to 2019.
Record-setting turnout in advance elections shows that despite the challenges, our fellow citizens are eager to exercise their democratic rights. If you haven’t voted yet, Monday, Election Day, is your last chance.
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