No mask, no in-person voting on Sept. 20.
That’s the message from Elections Canada, which confirmed Monday that British Columbians who want to cast a ballot in person for the federal election will have to mask up, since B.C. is one of the provinces with mask mandates for public indoor spaces.
Andrea Marantz, Elections Canada’s spokeswoman for the B.C. region, said exemptions will be made for medical reasons, as laid out in the public health order. She said any voter can apply for a mail-in ballot online at elections.ca or in person at a returning office.
The application deadline for getting mail-in ballots is Sept. 14 at 6 p.m., Marantz said.
She said voters will not be asked to provide proof of medical reasons for not wearing a mask.
To avoid situations where potential voters are turned away, she said, Elections Canada will have boxes of masks available for those who turn up without one.
Elections Canada’s decision to stick to B.C.’s mask mandate for in-person voting has drawn criticism on social media, where anti-mask groups are decrying the move, but Marantz noted that voting by mail is an option for anyone who doesn’t want to wear a mask.
“If this is a matter of choice, then that’s likely a better choice for that individual.”
Information about the mask requirement and how to vote by mail is also being made widely available, including on social media and on Elections Canada’s website, she said.
“I think we are really putting out the alternatives that are available for voting, and — given there are public health orders in place in some jurisdictions — we are following those health orders.”
B.C. reintroduced mask mandates for indoor public spaces on Aug. 25 as new cases of COVID‑19 surged across Canada, driven by the reopening of the economy and a rise in cases of the highly contagious Delta variant.