Following in the footsteps of the Democrats in the United States, the Trudeau administration is proposing a new voting format intended to promote social distancing and allow voters to cast their ballots over a period of several days, instead of just designated election days.
The new piece of legislation, titled Bill C-19, changes the established one-day format to a three-day voting period from Saturday to Monday. Weekend voters will have an eight hour window in which to cast their votes, while Monday will have a 12-hour window. The bill is intended to decrease queues at the polls and facilitate physical distancing, as recommended by Canada’s health agencies.
Intended as a COVID-19 pandemic-related proposal, the bill is meant to last for 90 days after it is passed. The Liberals insist that the changes are merely “temporary” amendments to the Canada Elections Act, designed to mitigate challenges should a snap election be called during the pandemic.
In addition to the addition of a three-day window, the bill will also “improve access to mail-in voting, including installing ballot drop-off boxes at every polling place, and allowing for online receipts of mail-in ballots,” CTV News reports. It also proposes creating “a 13-day period prior to polling places being open to allow for votes to be cast in long-term care homes to permit seniors to have safe opportunities to cast their ballots.”
“Canadians deserve to have full confidence in their ability to exercise their democratic rights safely in these unprecedented times,” said Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc.
“This will ensure the health and safety of voters, election workers and all participants in Canada's electoral system. By introducing these temporary amendments, Elections Canada will be able to offer more ways for Canadians to vote during a pandemic. I look forward to working with my parliamentary colleagues to deliver our shared goal of a free, fair and safe election,” LeBlanc said.