Sure, let’s have a snap election in the middle of a pandemic. Leaving off the discussion as to whether we would give the NDP a big pat on the back for the sacrifices WE have made, or the incredible difficulty involved in campaigning, what would a vote look like?
Over the past 12 years I have worked eight federal, provincial or municipal elections, in every capacity in the polling station, and they are difficult affairs at the best of times.
First, you can’t check people for symptoms at the door, or refuse them entry if they refuse to wear a mask – they have a right to vote. If someone with obvious symptoms does come in, do you then shut down the polling station?
Second, how do you protect everyone from each other? The workers have to check ID, and have the voter sign the register. This can’t be done from a distance. Then, everything the voter touches has to be disinfected before the next voter comes forward, including the pencil used to mark the ballot and the voting booth. If a voter needs extra help due to physical limitations, how do you handle that while social distancing?
Third, where do you find enough workers willing to face the risks involved, when most election workers are from the older age bracket most susceptible to serious complications if they do catch COVID-19? If any locality has been hit with an outbreak, who is going to expose themselves to the danger just to earn 140 bucks? Who will go into a nursing home experiencing an outbreak, or a hospital, to provide those residents with their opportunity to vote? How do you screen the workers adequately in the first place?
Fourth, if the wait times do increase as one would expect, where does Elections BC – in a short space of time – find new venues capable of providing enough room for social distancing without having people lined up down the block outside for, possibly, an hour or more in the pouring rain?
These are just a few of the potential landmines facing Elections BC in preparing for a pandemic election on short notice. There are undoubtedly others.
We could consider a full-on mail-in-only election, but that has huge risks. Either way, the logistical problems are immense.
I might vote for Dr. Bonnie Henry in an October election, but does Mr. Horgan really think his party would be rewarded for running up a huge deficit while businesses close their doors?
Consider carefully, Mr. Premier.
Stephen Oakes, Gibsons