Refuse to wear a mask? You will be turned away from voting in some provinces, Elections Canada warns
TORONTO -- Some voters who arrive to their polling station without a mask or who refuse to wear a mask will be turned away from the polls if they do not have a medical exemption and refuse to wear one that’s offered to them, Elections Canada warns.
In a statement on Monday, a spokesperson from Elections Canada said anyone who refuses to wear a mask will not be able to vote in the provinces and territories with an active indoor mask mandate.
“In order to maintain a safe and secure environment for electors and election workers, individuals who refuse to wear a mask where masks are required will be refused entry to the polling station,” the statement read.
In an updated statement on Thursday, Elections Canada said any voter who refuses to wear a mask in a region that requires one indoors will be offered a mask, and if they refuse once again, they will be asked if they have a medical exemption.
If a voter indicates that they do have a medical exemption, they will be allowed to vote without further questions, with the exception of polling stations where the property owner requires proof of any exemption.
Only voters who do not bring a mask with them, refuse a mask offered to them and indicate that they do not have a medical exemption will be turned away from their polling station, Elections Canada clarified.
This does not affect voters in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and Nunavut, as these jurisdictions do not currently require residents to wear a mask indoors. In these provinces, mandatory masks will only be enforced at polling stations where “the landlord leasing the space to Elections Canada” requires mask wearing.
In the other provinces, those who refuse to wear a mask and those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons were encouraged to apply for a mail-in ballot. The deadline to apply was Sept. 14.
Elections Canada added that all election workers, candidates and candidates’ representatives “will be required to wear masks to lead by example and maintain the safest environment possible for electors and workers.”
At the polling station, physical distancing requirements will be enforced. There will be single-use pencils and hand sanitizer.
Workers will be regularly wiping down the voting stations, so Elections Canada warns there may be “very minor” delays to vote.
A previous version of this story stated that masks are not required to be worn indoors in Nova Scotia. In fact, masks are required for indoor public gatherings in that province.
This story has been updated to include a clarification from Elections Canada on masking rules.