Voting Services in Long-term Care Facilities – CEO Appearance on the Special Report of the Chief Electoral Officer: Administering an Election during the COVID-19 Pandemic
As a result of COVID-19, regulations limiting access to long-term care facilities are constantly evolving and differ from province to province.
Election administrators will require significant flexibility to serve local facilities safely.
Statistics Canada figures indicate that there are approximately 5,500 nursing homes and community care facilities for the elderly in Canada.
Elections Canada officials have begun engaging with federal, provincial and local public health authorities, and will monitor the situation in order to respect the regulations regarding access to long-term care facilities.
The Canada Elections Act authorizes the administration of "mobile polls" to serve multiple long-term care facilities on polling day and to proceed room-to-room where necessary within facilities.
Flexibility is required to extend the operation of these polls over multiple days during the writ period:
to avoid visiting different facilities on the same day, by the same election officers
to accommodate the requirements and schedules of facility administrators, and
to allow for time-consuming room-to-room voting services, thereby avoiding gatherings in common areas
Staffing voting operations within long-term care facilities will be challenging and may require facility staff or volunteers to be trained as election officers in order to administer the vote within their facilities.
If access to long-term care facilities is prohibited, special ballot voting will be possible, though difficult given ID requirements and the complexity of the special ballot voting process.