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Protocols in place in event of anti-mask disruptions at polls

Elections Canada not expecting issues but nevertheless prepared
MVT Advanced voted federal election
Although Elections Canada is not expecting any widespread issues at polling stations on Monday, security protocols are nevertheless in place in the event of disruptions caused by anti-mask demonstrators. With advanced voting wrapped up, Canadians who have not yet cast a ballot will have a chance to go to the polls on Monday, Sept. 20. File photo/MVP Staff

Although Elections Canada is not expecting any widespread issues at polling stations on Monday, security protocols are nevertheless in place in the event of disruptions caused by anti-mask demonstrators.

“Elections Canada is following the rules of the provincial health authorities,” Leanne Nyirfa, regional media adviser for Elections Canada, told The Albertan.

“Of course in Alberta, there is a masking mandate indoors. So, you will need to be required to wear a mask when you go to vote,” Nyirfa said on Wednesday, Sept. 15 during a phone interview.

Voters who claim to have a medical condition exempting them from wearing a mask will not be asked for proof, with the sole exception of schools throughout the province that are offering gym space for polling stations, she said.

“Alberta schools have asked that proof of medical exemption if you’re not wearing a mask, must be provided,” she explained.

“In those polling locations in Alberta schools, we will be asking for proof of medical exemption if you say that you cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition."

Anti-mask demonstrators creating a scene recently resulted in two regional federal election forums in Red Deer and Innisfail being cancelled.  

“If we do have an elector, who for example is refusing to wear a mask when one is offered and where masks are mandatory and when an elector says they don’t have a medical exemption, our election workers will explain the rules to the elector,” Nyirfa said.

“If a situation escalates, the protocol is to call the police. If a situation were to continue to escalate, the polling place would be closed until the situation is back under control." 

With advanced voting now wrapped up, Canadians who have not yet cast a ballot will get their chance on Monday, Sept. 20. Polling stations will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and voters are reminded to bring identification.

“We don’t really anticipate any major issues for election day,” she said. “For the most part, most people attending the (advanced) poll have been very patient in lineups and are clearly there to take part in the democratic process.”

“We’re aware that there have been some isolated incidents involving some bad behaviour at polling sites. But again, we have protocols and procedures in place to deal with those and to maintain order at the polls.

"People should be confident that they’ll be able to exercise their rights to vote in locations that are safe and secure. Safety and security of electors and our staff are of number 1 importance.”



Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel is the editor of the Sundre Round Up and a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.
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