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Police respond to anti-mask dispute at Edmonton polling station

Click to play video: 'Edmontonians head to the polls on federal election day' Edmontonians head to the polls on federal election day
WATCH ABOVE: Edmontonians headed to their polling stations Monday to vote in the federal election. Police were called to one station after a dispute by some who refused to wear masks. Nicole Stillger has a closer look at election day in Edmonton – Sep 20, 2021

Police were called to break up a disturbance at a polling station in northeast Edmonton Monday morning, where two people reportedly refused to wear masks inside.

Police were called to Overlander School in Hermitage Road, where area residents were going to cast their votes in the 44th general federal election.

Read more: Will Trudeau’s election gamble pay off? Polls now closed except to those still in line

An EPS spokesperson said a man and a woman got into a dispute with election workers after refusing to wear their masks due to an alleged medical exemption.

A Global News employee witnessed the exchange between the Elections Canada workers and the two people, who were turned away after entering the polling station for not following the Alberta government’s mandatory mask mandate.

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“Alberta schools are requiring that Elections Canada ask for proof of medical exemption. That was a condition of using the schools as polling locations,” Elections Canada spokesperson Leanne Nyirfa told Global News.

“Unless requested by the authority, Elections Canada will not ask for proof of medical exemption.”

Elections Canada is encouraging voters to wear masks, but only requires them in provinces where they are mandated, such as in Alberta.

Police said officers arrived and told the two people to leave the school, and they cooperated.

Read more: Alberta’s vaccine passport starts Monday amid growing fourth wave

Elections Canada said most people attending the polls have been patient in lineups and are clearly there to take part in the democratic process.

“Abuse is never acceptable and electors who are abusive to workers or other electors, or who refuse to follow public health orders will be asked to leave,” Nyirfa said.

“We are grateful to all the poll workers, who are there to help their neighbours vote. They should not be subject to any kind of verbal abuse or harassment.”

About 6.8 million Canadians have already voted — the majority of them doing so through advanced polling Sept. 10 to 13, and the rest through special balloting either by mail or in-person at Elections Canada offices.

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About 30 million eligible voters are able to cast their ballots Monday.

— With files from Aaron D’Andrea, Global News

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