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Town of St. Paul will not offer drive-thru poll

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ST. PAUL - Town of St. Paul council was given an overview of how the St. Paul Rec. Centre will be set up for the upcoming municipal election on Oct. 18.

Although the idea of creating a drive-thru polling station that would have allowed voters to stay in their vehicles was floated around, it will not be moving forward due to challenges that would be anticipated.

A number of precautions will be in place during the fall election, explained Aline Brousseau, director of planning and legislative services and the municipality's returning officer.

"During our training sessions with Municipal Affairs this year, it was recommended to provide more voting opportunities for voters to cast their vote to reduce the spread of COVID-19," said Brousseau. "We have tried to consider all individuals needs and created another voting opportunity within the 'coat room' of the Rec Centre which will be a shorter walk for individuals with any health concerns or for parents with young children."

Single use pencils, extra staff to help clean touch surfaces, along with a structured pathway through the Rec. Centre with workers directing voters are among the changes that people will notice, along with an increase in voting compartments.

When speaking about the drive-thru poll idea, Brousseau said that while it sounded like a great idea at first, one of the biggest challenges would be maintaining secrecy of the vote. If a drive-thru poll was created, only one voter would be allowed per vehicle, when voting. No other eligible voters would be allowed in the vehicle.

A voter must also be free from observation, according to the Local Authorities Election Act. Brousseau stated it would be hard to monitor people from outside the vehicle. Voters must also be free of any interference, which brings up issues such as phone calls that may be received while someone is casting a ballot in their vehicle.

More poll workers would also be required to run a drive-thru polling station, and those workers would require safety PPE, such as boots. Signage would also be required.

It was noted that Lac La Biche County will be operating a drive-thru poll, while the Town of Bonnyville will not. 

Brousseau said she felt that increasing the number of voting compartments at the Rec. Centre and running at full capacity for advanced polls, and on the actual election date, would be adequate. She added that she is hoping to get the message out that people do have two options to vote with advanced polls being available on Oct. 8 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Brousseau said there will be lots of new workers helping out with this year's municipal election, and additional workers are still being sought.

"At any given time, within the Recreation Center at full working capacity, there will be about 25 people required," according to the Aug. 23 Town of St. Paul meeting agenda.

Council agreed to operate at a full complement of staff for advanced polls and on election day. There will be no drive-thru poll offered.

A motion to allow staff to serve as poll workers, as the need arises, was also carried.



Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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