Alberta health restrictions won’t affect voting, but could change candidates’ election night plans

Voting protocols will not be affected by new restrictions set to go into effect on election day in Alberta, but candidates may have to change their election night plans.

Elections Canada said Thursday it has communicated with Alberta’s public health authority and that there would be no changes to the process during Monday’s federal election. 

The non-partisan service has previously prepared public health measures at voting locations, including mandatory masking, physical distancing, hand sanitizer, single-use pencils and plexiglass barriers.

Polling places are not considered discretionary events or businesses, meaning they’re not subject to capacity limits.

Vaccination status for voters will not be a factor, Elections Canada said.

Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan reiterated that election activities won’t be impacted.

Campaign events, however, will have to abide by the new measures that kick in on Sept. 20: indoor event spaces will be restricted to one-third capacity with masking and distancing required.

Restaurants and other similar locations will also be subject to applicable restrictions, McMillan said.

Campaign plans in flux

Candidates are now having to adjust election night plans to align with the new restrictions.

Liberal candidate for Edmonton Centre Randy Boissonnault has cancelled plans to hold a campaign event at the Matrix Hotel in downtown Edmonton.

“I’ll be watching the results from my home, possibly with my mom, because she’s part of our house bubble,” he said Thursday. “And that’s it.”

Boissonnault said cancelling the event was to keep volunteers and the public safe. Members of his team will keep in touch virtually as results come in, he said.

The office for Edmonton Griesbach’s Liberal candidate, Habiba Mohamud, is revisiting plans to host an outdoor party in the parking lot of the campaign office.

Campaign spokesperson Harmon Moon said the Alberta website offers little guidance for how a campaign office can best comply with restrictions, given that it relies heavily on volunteers but is neither a business or place of worship.

A campaign spokesperson for Tim Uppal, Conservative Party of Canada candidate for Edmonton Mill Woods, said they were still confirming their election night location in light of restrictions. 

Edmonton Strathcona NDP candidate Heather McPherson, who first won the riding in 2019, said her election night plans were largely unchanged. 

“For us, it was some small tweaking to make sure that we’re abiding by the restrictions that are in place but … we were never going to have a big election night party.”

McPherson said the federal party had directed campaigns not to host election night parties. She plans to be at her campaign office with masking and distancing in place, joined by her core team and immediate family members.

The federal election will be held on Sept. 20 — the same day that a host of new restrictions from the provincial government go into effect.

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