The election for Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief has been postponed until mid-November and, for the first time, Tłı̨chǫ citizens may have the option to vote online.
Following the introduction of a two-week containment order in Behchokǫ̀, the largest of the Tłı̨chǫ communities, Tłı̨chǫ registrar Gabrielle Mackenzie-Scott announced on Friday the election will now take place on November 18. Polling day was originally scheduled for September 30.
In a news release, Mackenzie-Scott said the Covid-19 outbreak meant regular voting activities and in-person campaigning could not be safely conducted.
As a result, she said, the registrar can’t conduct voting in a way that would allow all Tłı̨chǫ voters a fair and equal opportunity to cast their ballot.
“While decisions about the federal government election proceeding are out of our control in the North, the Tłı̨chǫ election process is within our control and we have authority to make the decision that is in the best interest of Tłı̨chǫ citizens,” the news release stated.
The registrar is now exploring digital voting as an option so Tłı̨chǫ citizens with internet access can vote safely from home. The news release said more information would be available next month.
Three candidates are running to become the next Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief: incumbent George Mackenzie, Eddie Erasmus, and Jackson Lafferty.
Mail-in voting had already begun. The registrar said ballots that have been issued will be stored securely and counted as planned.
Tłı̨chǫ citizens can also vote at the registrar’s office from November 1 to 5, by special mobile poll on November 8, and at advance polls on November 10, before polling day on November 18.
The office of the registrar will be closed to the public until further notice but staff will continue to respond to mail-in ballot requests and questions by email or at (867) 669-0442.