Elections Canada Website Faces Technical Problems as Long Lineups Frustrate Voters

Elections Canada has apologized for technical problems with an application on its website that tells Canadians where to vote in Monday’s federal election.

The site’s voter information service page usually lets Canadians find their polling station by entering their postal code and address. Voters can also search based on electoral district names.

But many took to social media Monday to complain that they were receiving the same error: “We were unable to find your voting location. Please call the office of the returning officer for assistance.”

The federal elections agency told CBC News those difficulties were resolved later Monday morning.

“We’re sorry electors were having issues with getting the information they needed. We were having technical problems with our online Voter Information Service earlier this morning, but those have since been resolved,” said Elections Canada spokesperson Nathalie de Montigny via email. “Everything is back working as it should.”

By Monday afternoon, however, the agency again tweeted that it was again having “intermittent technical difficulties.”

In a later statement, Elections Canada spokesperson Natasha Gauthier said that the issues have been resolved.

Voters can also check the voter information card they received in the mail to find their location, Ms. Montigny said, or call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868.

Long lineups, polling station difficulties frustrate voters

Others complained online of long lineups, particularly in several Toronto ridings, and that some polling locations appeared to open later than 9:30 a.m. ET. or to be unprepared to receive voters.

“Opening thousands of locations across the country is a logistical challenge and can take extra time sometimes,” Ms. Montigny said. “We appreciate electors’ patience.”

The longer lineups were something Elections Canada had warned Canadians about because there would be fewer polling locations across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as additional public health protocols that were expected to increase waiting times.

In a statement to CBC News, Ms. Gauthier said that the majority of polling stations opened on time but that some polls have had to deal with some unexpected difficulties.

Poll workers did not show up at two stations in the Ontario riding of Kenora. Ms. Gauthier said that standby workers from other regions were sent in and polls were expected to open late.

Ms. Gauthier said disruption in voting services occurred at a number of polling stations in the Toronto riding of Davenport, but voting has now resumed.

A Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council protest disrupted voting at a polling location in Brantford–Brant. The polling place was relocated, Ms. Gauthier said.

Poll workers in two Indigenous communities in the riding of Grande Prairie–Mackenzie, Alta., arrived at locked polling places. Ms. Gauthier said that issue has been resolved.

A polling place in the Indigenous community of Yekooche, B.C., which is in the riding of Skeena–Bulkley Valley, has not opened for reasons Elections Canada has not specified.

In an interview, Ms. Gauthier told that long lines and wait times are mostly because of public health measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“In some places, you may be required to wait outside for your turn just because they have to limit the number of people in the buildings,” she said. “The additional sanitization and cleaning requirements also take a little bit longer. We have one poll worker at the poll desk as opposed to two … again that’s to make sure that that physical distancing is maintained inside the building.”

“We do appreciate peoples’ patience,” she added.

Chief Electoral Officer said in June a longer campaign would be ‘preferable’

In June, Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault told a parliamentary committee that, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, it would be “preferable” for Elections Canada to administer a federal election that was longer than the minimum 36 days.

“There is merit to a longer writ period in a pandemic because everything takes more time,” Mr. Perrault said at the time.  “In terms of recruiting and in terms of finding polling places, it does take more time. Within the parameters of the act, in my view, a longer period is preferable.”

Under Canada’s election laws, an election period must last at least 36 days and no more than 50. The summer campaign called last month was set at a minimum of 36 days.


This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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