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A short snap election would pose voting hurdles, says chief electoral officer

Last Updated Oct 22, 2020 at 1:54 pm EST

OTTAWA — Canada’s chief electoral officer says that in the event of a snap election during the pandemic, Canadians would have better access to the polls with a longer campaign — even though a shorter one appears more likely.

Stéphane Perrault says the time required to send out up to five million mail-in ballots, work with remote communities and install health measures for a voting amid a deadly second COVID-19 wave demands a longer writ period.

However, Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski says that if the Liberal government triggers an election, it would likely result in a shorter campaign so the Grits could “take advantage of their popularity at the time.”

Perrault says local returning officers would not have offices, computers or poll workers at the start of a sudden campaign, triggering a logistical scramble.

Perrault says Elections Canada estimates an election amid the pandemic will add at least $50 million in costs for items ranging from masks and hand sanitizer to prepaid postage and health-awareness campaigns.

On Wednesday, political brinkmanship over a parliamentary committee issue came to a head in a confidence vote that could have sparked a federal election, which was averted when the NDP opposed the Conservative motion that prompted the showdown.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2020.

The Canadian Press