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Chief Electoral Officer to suggest future elections be held on weekends

Canada's Chief Electoral Officer is reportedly considering a recommendation to Parliament that future votes be held on a weekend. Tamara Forlanski/Global News

Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer has floated the idea of holding all future federal elections on a weekend to boost the number of people who show up to vote.

Marc Mayrand is attending a conference this week in Calgary hosted by the Canadian Political Science Association. During a panel discussion on Wednesday afternoon, Mayrand said he is planning to issue a recommendation to Parliament that future votes be held on a Saturday or Sunday.

A spokesperson for Elections Canada was able to confirm Mayrand’s comments at the conference, adding that “this is something we’re considering and consulting on at this time.”

Mayrand is scheduled to submit a set of recommendations to Parliament this fall.

Canada wouldn’t be the first country to examine weekend voting. In 2012, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress to move the American election day from the Tuesday after the first Monday in November to Saturday and Sunday. It never passed, however, and was reintroduced late last year by Congressman Steve Israel.

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Turnout for the last federal election was just over 68 per cent, the highest in over two decades. The government is currently undertaking a series of public consultations on electoral reform, and an all-party committee is set to issue a report by the end of the year. One of the questions the group will consider is whether mandatory voting could help increase turnout even more.

READ MORE: Liberals will seek public support before making changes to electoral system

The review process has been widely criticized, however, as the Liberals make up a majority of the committee. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly promised that 2015’s vote would be the last under the current first-past-the-post system.

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