“We’d be looking at the physical distancing requirements, hand-sanitizing stations and Plexiglas barriers between officials and the voters,” Scott Bastian told Global News.
He said planning an election was difficult during the best of times and the coronavirus pandemic has presented unique challenges for the election, which is scheduled to take place Nov. 9.
Standing in empty City Hall chambers on Tuesday, he told Global News the attendants will likely wear gloves and masks and that voter identification will probably involve passing documents back and forth using a clipboard.
“Voters will be encouraged to wear masks and gloves but it would really up to them to make that decision,” he said.
There will be 66 polling stations across the city on election day and eight advance polls, in different locations on different days, ahead of time.
Having so many polling stations will require additional attendants to run and sanitize the facilities, though the specific numbers haven’t yet been determined.
He said procedures are still being finalized and will be adjusted if the need arises — like if the number of COVID-19 cases in the city spikes.
He noted the City of Saskatoon is closely following the guidelines set out by Elections Saskatchewan for the provincial contest, scheduled for Oct. 26.
He said he’s also encouraging residents to use other voting methods, like advance polls or registering for a mail-in ballot.
Though slightly less than 200 people signed up in 2016, Bastian said he’s anticipating a surge in demand for the method that would allow residents to vote from home.
He added the city is working to improve the efficiency of the system so that the votes received via mail can be counted on election night.
Bastian also said all of the new voting measures and safety procedures are being put into place without new funding.
“We’re working with Elections Saskatchewan, who will be procuring PPE for the provincial election two weeks prior,” he told Global News.
“So maybe there’s an opportunity to leverage those supplies that are already available.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.