Government introduces legislation to support safe, secure and accessible voting during the pandemic
Ottawa, December 10, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on new challenges to the way elections are administered – in Canada and around the world. Canadians deserve to have full confidence in their ability to exercise their democratic rights safely in these unprecedented times.
Today, the Government introduced legislation that would temporarily supplement provisions of the Canada Elections Act (the Act) and mitigate potential challenges associated with administering an election during the pandemic in the event an election were to occur.
If passed, these measures will provide Elections Canada with additional tools to administer an election during the pandemic in a manner that is safe for voters and election workers. Most importantly, they will maximize opportunities for Canadians to exercise their democratic rights, while ensuring the integrity of the electoral process that Canadians know and count on. Measures include the establishment of a three-day polling period, expanded opportunities to securely vote by mail, flexibility to allow for safe voting in long-term care facilities and facilities with persons living with disabilities, and increased authority for the Chief Electoral Officer to adjust provisions of the Act as needed to ensure the health and safety of voters and election workers.
These temporary changes will provide Canadians with increased opportunities to vote in person while facilitating physical distancing by spreading out the vote over multiple days. In addition, for those who may not have the ability to vote in person or who may not feel comfortable doing so, enhanced mail-in voting measures will ensure the system is easy to use, accessible and responsive to the voters’ needs—especially those who are most vulnerable during the pandemic. While the pandemic has led to significant changes in the everyday lives of Canadians, it should not affect their ability to vote.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the government has been committed to Canadians’ safety. In response, we are introducing these temporary amendments to the Canada Elections Act. 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.”
‑ The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
In Canada, the need for physical distancing and other public health measures initially resulted in the postponement of some elections at the provincial and municipal levels. Since then, election officials at all levels of government have undertaken efforts to ensure they can safely administer an election during the pandemic.
These temporary legislative amendments complement and build on recommendations made by the Chief Electoral officer on October 5, 2020, in his Special Report on voting during a pandemic.
For more information (media only), please contact:
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
Privy Council Office
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