Municipal Elections are going ahead as normal in the Region of Queens despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Returning officer Ted Bulley says people will see little difference when they go to the polls October 17.
“It’s a normal election with COVID sitting over the top of us and that we have to, naturally, abide by all the rules that are out there for COVID-19 with masks and that kind of thing,” said Bulley.
Bulley says the polling locations will look similar to what people have gotten used to seeing when they visit their local shops.
“When you come in to vote, you’ll see screens in front of the DRO and the poll clerks,” said Bulley. “We’re having screens made, and there’ll be a person controlling traffic, and they’ll be the social distancing, and hand sanitizers, that kind of thing.”
While some other municipalities across the province have moved voting online, Region of Queens council opted to stay with the familiar paper ballots.
Anyone who has lived in Nova Scotia prior to April 8, is a Canadian citizen over the age of 18 and a resident of the Region of Queens before October 8 is eligible to vote.
Bulley says this is his third municipal election as Returning Officer and the first time he hasn’t seen a seat on council won by acclamation.
Whether or not it’s because people have had more time to sit and look around them during COVID-19, Bulley says he’s pleased to see a full slate of candidates running in all seven districts and for the mayor’s chair.
“I don’t know why people put their name forward when they do, but it seems that people are more engaged these days,” said Bulley.
He says typically, the municipal election draws about 40 precent of eligible voters to the polls.
He is optimistic the large number of candidates will also mean more people getting out to cast their ballot.
“In most cases I’ve found that where you have an election for a councillor will draw the people out, versus just the mayor running in that particular district,” said Bulley.
Advance polls will be available where people from any district can vote for their candidates October 8 at the North Queens Fire Hall, West Queens Recreation Centre and the Milton Community Hall, or on October 13 at the Greenfield or Mill Village Fire Halls, or at the Royal Canadian Legion in Liverpool.
After the advance polls, residents must vote in their districts at their designated polling stations.
Bulley says a team of two election staff will be going into the area’s three long-term care homes on election day to collect the resident’s votes.
“Dr. Strang and the department of health have added election workers as essential workers,” said Bulley. “That means they can go into any nursing home.”
People of Queens have until October 5 to get themselves on the final List of Electors, which will speed up the voting process at the polls.
Anyone not on the final list may still vote on election day, but will have to take the extra step of swearing an oath before they can cast their ballot.
Reported by Ed Halverson