As November approaches, news from the United States is increasingly focused on the upcoming presidential elections. Apart from the candidates and their campaigns, one topic has been a repeated point of conversation unique to this particular election: Will people even show up to vote?
In the face of an ongoing global pandemic – which, according to the Centres for Disease Control, has claimed the lives of more than 177,000 Americans as of Sept. 10 – will people feel comfortable standing in lines at polling stations to cast their ballots?
There is a possibility Canadians could soon be asking themselves the same question. In light of "speculation about the content of a throne speech [fuelling] talk about a fall election" a Sept. 10 study by the Angus Reid Institute found 27 per cent of Canadians would not be comfortable voting in person at a local polling station during the pandemic.
The study found past Conservative Party of Canada voters were the least likely to express discomfort with voting in person – only 12 per cent – while 35 per cent of past Liberal Party voters and 37 per cent of past New Democratic Party voters said voting in person would make them uncomfortable.
Granted, our situation is much different than in the U.S. The possibility of another election – with the memory of the last federal election in 2019 still very fresh – is not yet definite. In any case, Canada has the virus much more under control. With more than 6,800 active cases reported in Canada as of Sept. 10, COVID-19 remains a threat, but nowhere near the same extent as our neighbours to the south.
Still, we empathize with any of our readers who would feel hesitant to vote in a fall election. Even with social distancing, masks or voting occurring over a two-day weekend – a move the Angus Reid Institute reports Elections Canada is considering – the thought of standing in indoor, public lines surrounded by strangers for lengthy periods of time is less than appealing.