The NWT’s chief public health officer said the inability of isolating Canadians to vote on Monday is “unfortunate” but safety at the polls must be paramount.
The rules in the Northwest Territories are the same as in the rest of Canada. Anyone isolating who has not voted at an advance poll or by mail cannot leave isolation on Monday to cast a vote at a polling place.
It’s virtually certain there will be no last-minute change. Amending the available means of voting ordinarily requires the passing of legislation, a process that lasts for months, and only after the election will there be a Parliament capable of considering any legislative fix.
Though the NWT government plays no role in setting the voting rules for federal elections, Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola on Friday said her office had “worked closely with Elections Canada to ensure voting can occur in the safest manner possible.”
That work included establishing safe polling places in communities under containment, Dr Kandola said, and encouraging voters to wait in their vehicles “to help keep line-ups and groups small.”
“All voters are encouraged to cast their vote, exit the polling station, and go home without lingering,” Kandola said.
While groups like the Northern Territories Federation of Labour have called for isolating residents to be granted the ability to vote on Monday, Kandola wrote: “If you are required to self-isolate for any reason on Election Day, you are not permitted to attend a polling station to cast your vote.”
Her statement continued: “It is unfortunate that residents subject to isolation orders will not be able to vote on Election Day. Polling stations must be safe.
“To protect the health and safety of all residents during this outbreak, individuals under isolation orders must remain in isolation.”
The inability of thousands of Canadians to vote while in isolation could lead to some form of legal challenge once the election concludes.
Polls on Friday suggested the Liberal and Conservative parties lie within one percentage point of each other nationally ahead of polling day on September 20.