Federal election cost estimated $630M, but many First Nations had no polling station


Published January 31, 2022 at 3:28 pm

OTTAWA — Elections Canada says last year’s federal election cost an estimated $630 million — more than the estimated $502 million bill for the 2019 poll — partly because of extra costs associated with the pandemic.

An official report by Elections Canada, which ran the vote, outlines various obstacles it had to overcome because of COVID-19 and says it overestimated the number of people who would vote by mail-in ballot. 

It says it had trouble finding staff for polling stations, including people to enforce social distancing and sanitize surfaces. 

To help recruitment, it gave a pay raise to election-day staff, some of whom were subject to abuse by voters, including about wearing masks. 

COVID-19 meant that many schools and community centres were not available on election day, forcing Elections Canada find alternative voting venues, including smaller sites, which led to queues. 

The difficulty finding polling sites led to delays sending out voter information cards. 

The report also reveals that many First Nations communities had no polling station at all. Of around 635 First Nations communities in Canada, only 57 per cent were assigned a polling station on their reserve. 

Elections Canada says it has apologized to voters in three fly-in Indigenous communities near Kenora, Ont., after they turned up to vote and found there was not a polling station. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2022. 

The Canadian Press

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