OPINION: How do you hold an election during a pandemic?

Well, here we go again – it’s election season, and we’re off to the races!

With the recent election in New Brunswick, there must be renewed optimism that an election can be held without the world ending shortly thereafter. Extra precautions are taken, marks on the floor inside and out must be respected, wear your mask and use the hand sanitizer, please.

The question about needing an election is irrelevant now, we are having one. The degree to which we need to be concerned about it is a different story, because we don’t know what the next few weeks will bring. But if there is one thing I do know, Elections BC is ready, just like always, to make sure a safe, secure and democratic election will be held, and anyone that is eligible and wants to will be given the opportunity to vote.

I’ve written here about working other elections, both Federal and Provincial, but obviously this one is going to be very different.

There will be a week’s worth of Advance Polling days – Oct. 15 to 21 - as well as the big day on Oct. 24, a Saturday no less. There will be plenty of opportunity to vote in a nearly empty room, as long as you don’t wait until the last hour on the 24th to cast your ballot. Don’t want to go to a polling station? You can vote by mail.

For Elections BC, this has not come out of the blue. The planning for a potential election happens well in advance, because when it’s called, it doesn’t have the luxury of figuring it out, it has to start planning the execution. Materials have to be printed and people in place to make an election happen. Now that it’s been called, the wheels are in motion.

First up is hiring folks to work the advance polls and then Election Day. And lots of people will be required, because there needs to be a lot of redundancy. If you are sick on a day you are supposed to work, don’t even think of coming in, so there needs to be a lot of back-up ready to go.

Having worked elections in almost every role since 2011, I think they have me on speed dial. It’s a hard job finding people to be part of an election, it’s a long, tiring day (or days at the advance polls). But in my experience, it is incredibly rewarding.

Depending on your polling station, you get to see all your neighbours, meet lots of people and participate in something that people the world over envy.

A peaceful continuation or transition of power, based on the will of the people. Pandemic or not, it’s happening.

Brad Sherwin, MBA is a long-time resident of South Delta, and has over 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He teaches marketing at Douglas College.

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