Red Deer advocates for easing restrictions on mail-in ballots for municipal elections – Red Deer Advocate

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Postal voting is not as accessible for the municipal election as it was for Monday’s federal election.

During the pandemic, Elections Canada received a record number of mail-in ballots this year: nearly one million from Canada and 26,266 from people living outside the country. All they had to do was register to vote by mail.

But Red Deer returning officer Samantha Rodwell said there are only three reasons someone can apply for a municipal mail-in ballot, called a special ballot – a physical disability prevents them from go to a polling station; they are absent from the jurisdiction; or they have a direct implication in the election which requires them to be in a different installation than their usual polling station.

She said the province says the pandemic is not one of those reasons.

“(The City of Red Deer) advocated for this to be changed, but the provincial government did not change the mail-in ballot rules for municipal elections,” Rodwell said.

She said the reasons for allowing special ballots were established some time ago in the Local Authority Elections Act.

“This information has just been postponed for 2021 and we were hoping that due to the pandemic the possibility of requesting a special ballot would have increased.”

But she said that due to the pandemic, the city has adjusted electoral operations to provide three forward polling stations that will be open for 13 days, from October 4 to 16. These polling stations will be located at Parkland Mall, Baymont by Wyndham and Westerner Parking.

“We really encourage people to go out and vote early. Absolutely any eligible voter can attend one of our advance polls. We would love to see them come out October 4-16 and that will hopefully limit some of those crowds on election day.

On election day, polling stations will also be set up in eight larger stations instead of 31 small polling stations. And people can vote at any polling station they want instead of having to go to a specific polling station.

She said safety is the top priority, so hand sanitizer, physical distancing and other measures will be in place at every polling station.

Rodwell said the election team will analyze the success of the changes and consider implementing them in future elections.

“We are still learning the lessons of past elections and applying them in the future. We believe that by managing our operations in the event of a pandemic, we have also made voting much more convenient. We are delighted to see how voters react.

Red Deer voters will choose the next mayor and eight councilors, as well as public or Catholic school councilors on October 18.

Information on the Red Deer election in 2021, including a map of polling stations, a list of current candidates and their submitted profiles, is available at elections.reddeer.ca.

– With files from The Canadian Press


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