June 17th, 2024

Concerns raised over masking requirements at polling stations

By Al Beeber on September 18, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

An elections worker for the Lethbridge district in Monday’s federal vote is expressing concerns about an email received from the local returning officer regarding COVID safety regulations.
The worker, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of losing her Elections Canada job, gave the Herald an email sent to workers by the local returning officer saying “the Returning Officer does not have or grant the authority to enforce emergency restrictions.”
Elections Canada said Friday the email was indeed sent to staff and candidates about Alberta rules.
“I can confirm a Returning Officer in Lethbridge did indeed send a memo to his staff and candidates regarding the mandatory masking rule in place in Alberta,” said Leanne Nyirfa in an email.
“The memo was not meant to imply that masking rules would not be followed in polling places on Election Day; rather its intention was to call on everyone – workers, voters, and candidates – to be respectful of our differences of opinion and to show patience and calmness in the polling place.
“The Returning Officer regrets the mention of constitutionality as it may have confused the issue, but the memo was sent in good faith, calling for calmness at the polls on Election Day.”
The email to workers from 48026_SDR-REC@elections.ca states “elections are considered essential public services, not public gatherings and are therefore subject to different and often less restrictive health and safety measures. All Election Officers make a Solemn Declaration that they will not violate the Canada Elections Act, which states: ‘No person shall by intimidation or duress compel or attempt to compel a person to vote or refraining from voting’.”
“Therefore, following emergency health restrictions in a democratic election will require peaceful, respectful, cooperation between both sides: Canadian Citizens coming to vote and Election Officials.”
It adds “We cannot control the choices and actions of others, only our own actions and choices. People across Canada will be watching Albertans to see how we behave on Election Day. We have already heard of shameful disruptions at polls in other places, but I am very pleased to say that no major incidents were reported at any of our Advance polls in the Lethbridge District. . . . Tensions are mounting, but I hope that citizens of the Lethbridge District, no matter which side of the present health issues they are on, will show mutual respect at least at the polls.
“Poll workers are required to wear personal protective equipment at the polls for more than 12 long hours, which would be difficult for almost anyone. I hope that voters coming to the polls will be tolerant and understanding if they see a poll worker who has a mask exemption, or a poll worker distance themselves and remove their mask briefly, for a short break to breathe, eat, or drink something during the day. I hope that poll workers will also be tolerant, kind, and understanding if they see a voter arrive at the polls who cannot wear a mask for some reason, and will let them pass quickly and peacefully in and out of the polls unmolested.”
Alberta COVID restrictions, listed on the alberta.ca website, state that masking and physical distancing are mandatory in all indoor public space and workplace. And all employees must wear masks in all indoor work settings except when alone in work stations.
The elections worker told The Herald it appears “the right to vote trumps Alberta Health regulations. Individual Deputy Returning Officers, DRO’s, the people who hand out the ballots, can refuse to serve an elector without a mask if they are ‘uncomfortable’ but then it is up to a supervisor to take over. So people can stand in line inside a building without a mask until they reach the polling area proper where they will finally be offered a mask, that they can refuse, make their way to the ballot box only to be refused a ballot by a DRO until a supervisor takes over.I appear to be the only person that has an issue with these directives.”
That elections worker has filed a complaint with Elections Canada and informed other staff they will be following all health protocols at polling stations.
On its website, Elections Canada tells voters to wear a mask and practise social distancing, telling them to stay at least two metres away from other voters and poll workers.

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pursuit diver

Is there any wonder why our ICU’s are almost at capacity and Doctors will soon face the horror of decided who lives and who dies because of the shortage of ventilators and trained healthcare professionals?
There should be no need to discuss this and 40 years ago people would have put masks on without question or argument. Although there a few with legitimate medical and psychological conditions, most are just trouble makers that want to prove a point!
Maybe they need another area for the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers? Do not the rest of voters have the right to be protected?
Some facts:
-if COVID is in the air in a crowd, it doesn’t matter if there is 2 meters distance or 20 meters!
-masks do not give you complete 100% protection!
We have been spoiled for so many years when something as serious as COVID comes along we think we can just ignore and stand up and say we are not going to be told what to do! Well, now that the ICU’s are 90% filled up with these people, have they smartened up yet? Apparently not, because a grocery shopping trip to a large grocery superstore found the same religious group still running around in the store without masks! Rather than get into an argument, store owners allow it because they do not want to endanger their staff, so what does that say about their customers?
Just like the mask issue, the vaccine passport will fail, because businesses will not want to put their staff in jeopardy enforcing the rules and this will give the other customers a false sense of security and protection, thinking that everyone around them is vaccinated, when some are not and refused to produce a passport or said they left it at home or they have a counterfeit passport which has happened in other countries.
What a sad world we live in when it is all about “ME” and screw everyone else, because “I” am first!
When people get out of control it only means one thing: We will lose some of our freedoms in an effort to make people respect each other again!
Is there any wonder our country is being ripped apart?


to put it another way, it is not about me, it is about you. we all have decisions to make. and we all want to live. to protect myself, for the last 17 months, I restricted my out of home activities to deal with essentials. groceries and dry goods were ordered on line and delivered, only trips made from home were to medical appointments and I have protected myself in this way, which is my right. and in this way I protected you from me. did you do the same? if not then it is really about you, to me.