Stephen: Voting postponed in Metro area/Avalon districts due to COVID-19 outbreak
The following is a statement from Newfoundland and Labrador’s Chief Electoral Officer, Bruce Chaulk:
With the announcement of significant increases in COVID-19 cases this week, my office has experienced considerable operational impacts. Many election workers have resigned out of fear of interacting with the public on Election Day. We cannot hold traditional polls without the support of these people.
The large number of individuals currently in self-isolation is also a major concern. These recent cases of COVID-19 affect the most densely populated region of our province. This is worrisome, as we now have confirmed community spread. I am concerned for our election workers and for the electorate, in general.
Therefore, I am announcing that in-person voting in the following electoral districts will be postponed to a later date:
- Cape St. Francis
- Carbonear – Trinity – Bay de Verde
- Conception Bay East – Bell Island
- Conception Bay South
- Harbour Grace – Port de Grave
- Harbour Main
- Mount Pearl North
- Mount Pearl – Southlands
- Mount Scio
- Placentia – St. Mary’s
- St. John’s Centre
- St. John’s East – Quidi Vidi
- St. John’s West
- Topsail – Paradise
- Virginia Waters – Pleasantville
- Waterford Valley
- Windsor Lake
As a result, the drive-thru voting option previously announced is also canceled.
Traditional voting will continue on Saturday, February 13, 2021 in all electoral districts not listed above. The results of these districts cannot be released until voting has concluded in all districts to protect the integrity of the vote.
I have also made the decision to extend special ballot voting to all regions of the province. The extended timeline is in accordance with the two-week circuit break implemented by the Department of Health.
Any eligible voter may apply to vote by mail using a special ballot. The deadline to apply is Saturday, February 13 at 8:00 p.m. to align with the time and date of the closing of the polls.
After the application is approved, a special ballot kit will be mailed to the elector and must be returned to Elections NL (via postage-paid Express Post envelope provided or by drop off) on or before Thursday, February 25, 2021.
Interested electors may apply by:
- Submitting an online application at www.elections.gov.nl.ca
- Emailing an application to email@example.com
- Printing and submitting an application by fax (709-729-5671)
Applications can be downloaded here.
It is important to note that all special ballot applications must be accompanied by identification showing the elector’s name and current address.
UPDATE: Bruce Chaulk released a further statement later this afternoon, which reads as follows:
As announced earlier today, Elections NL is implementing a two-week circuit break in the polling process for 18 districts on the Avalon Peninsula. In the event that public health conditions improve, in-person traditional polling will be scheduled after the circuit break.
However, based on the continually increasing COVID cases being reported in the region, there is no guarantee that we will be able to administer in-person voting safely at that time. It will entirely depend on the province’s COVID-19 situation.
Therefore, I encourage all electors to consider voting by special ballot to ensure the ability to participate in this election.