New Brunswick postpones municipal elections in response to coronavirus pandemic

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs speaks with the media in Fredericton, New Brunswick on Monday February 17, 2020. New Brunswick's minority Progressive Conservative government has survived a confidence vote on its provincial budget as members of the legislature set aside partisan differences to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

New Brunswick has passed legislation that will postpone municipal elections that were scheduled for this May.

The decision comes amid growing uncertainty over the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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The province’s legislature carried out first, second and third readings in a single day after cross-party support for an Act Respecting Elections in 2020. The bill has already received royal assent.

“With the large number of electors, polling stations and poll workers, there was no safe way to undertake the municipal election at this time,” said Kim Poffenroth, New Brunswick’s chief electoral officer.

“Elections are contact-heavy events and with the guidance of the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s directive on public gatherings and social distancing, it was felt to be the only option at this time.”

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The legislation also postpones two byelections, previously scheduled for June 15, 2020.

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The byelections will now have to be held no later than 30 days prior to the day that the legislature begins a new session this fall.