In the letter addressed to the House affairs committee, originally flagged by Blacklock’s, LeBlanc emphasized the need for a massive increase in mail-in voting.
LeBlanc wrote in his letter: “The government is of the view that facilitating voting by mail would be a key aspect of running a fair election during the pandemic.”
In the 2019 election, less than 50,000 Canadians voted through a mail-in ballot. The process is strict and usually reserved for citizens and military abroad.
The government agency in charge of the electoral process, Elections Canada, has budgeted for a 100x increase in 2019’s mail-in ballot. The agency set aside $10 million for prepaid postage and budgeted somewhere around 5 million mail-in votes.
“Should a federal election occur during a pandemic, scaling capacity to support major increases in vote by mail would be a critical issue during the election”. LeBlanc wrote.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is pushing for Bill C-19, An Act To Amend The Canada Elections Act. The Act includes numerous provisions to favour mail-in voting and would allow mailed ballots to be received up to 6 pm the day after the election.
The Act also includes a provision that could postpone the counting of the votes in districts under pandemic lockdown, according to Blacklock’s.
MPs from the New Democratic Party expressed concerns in a report to the House committee: “In an election where the right to govern may hang on only a handful of seats, the exercise of this unilateral power may determine who is invited to form a government following an election where several seats or more remain vacant”.
The November 6th election in the United States generated a lot of confusion and political instability. Confidence in mail-in voting was very low for a large portion of the American population, and the confusion regarding a lack of ID verification and the validity of late ballots in some states led to a rapid escalation.
Canada may not be immune to similar turmoil if the results of the election are unclear, or take numerous weeks to be certified.