No advance polling in 10 Nunavut communities, Elections Canada says

“I was at home trying to find the polling station, but I couldn’t find it anywhere”

An advance polling station at Luke Novoligak Community Hall in Cambridge Bay was one of 15 advance polling stations in Nunavut. (Photo by Jane George)

By Emma Tranter

A record 4.7 million Canadians voted in advance polls over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to Elections Canada.

Residents in 15 out of 25 Nunavut communities had the chance to cast their ballot over four days last weekend.

But there were no advance polling stations in 10 communities, Elections Canada confirmed.

Patterk Netser, MLA for Aivilik and the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, was at home in Coral Harbour over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Netser, along with his fellow MLAs, are scheduled to be in Iqaluit on election day for the fall siting of the legislative assembly. Knowing this, Netser said he wanted to cast his ballot in advance.

“I was at home trying to find the polling station, but I couldn’t find it anywhere,” Netser said.

Netser said he contacted Elections Canada, who told him the nearest advance poll was in Rankin Inlet, over 400 kilometres away.

“That’s an hour away by airplane. So my understanding is that my community has to go vote in Rankin Inlet,” he said.

“I think they have no idea how we operate up in Nunavut. They can drive to the next town, half an hour or 20 minutes. It’s very different up here,” he added.

In a statement, Elections Canada said they take a number of criteria into account when determining where advance polling stations will be set up.

One of those considerations is the number of electors. Because Coral Harbour has 413 electors, Elections Canada said they chose not to have advance polls in the community.

Coral Harbour’s population is 891, according to the 2016 census.

“The election is very important to my people. It’s taking part in democracy,” Netser said.

According to a CBC story from 2015, a number of Nunavut communities, including Arctic Bay, also did not have advance polling during last federal election.

Elections Canada confirmed there will be a polling station at Qaggivit Community Hall in Coral Harbour on election day, Monday, Oct. 21.

Netser was pleased to know there would be a polling station on election day.

“I’m happy to hear that we can take part in democracy,” he said.

“I still think each community should have an advance polling place to go to, as more and more people are travelling for meetings, medical appointments,” he added.

The ten communities that did not have advance polling stations are: Chesterfield Inlet, Taloyoak, Grise Fjord, Naujaat, Kugaaruk, Coral Harbour, Sanikiluaq, Clyde River, Kimmirut and Whale Cove.

The list of polling stations in Nunavut on election day can be found here.

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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I would like to see Elections Canada taken to court over northern communities not having the opportunity to take part in advance polls. Hopefully whoever is elected to represent Nunavut will bring this up in the House of Commons.
    It may well be legal, but it does not recognize the unique challenges of citizens living in remote and isolated communities. We can and must do better to ensure that all Canadians are able to exercise this most basic of rights in our nation.

  2. Posted by Fred on

    What total BS from Elections Canada! They know nothing about Nunavut, sure shows their ignorance!

    • Posted by Kaptain Kurious on

      Please let us know what information Elections Canada would need to change the outcome in this situation. I am genuinely curious!

  3. Posted by Proud Nunavummiut on

    Can someone answer me how you can run a co-ordinated event in 25 communities in such a large territory that gets similar resources to a smaller riding in the south?

    Also, there are many other means of voting in advance (ie. mailing)…

  4. Posted by Ray on

    I was fortunate to go cast my vote, but it’s going to be a challenge for the unilinguals who read and speak only inuktitut as well. The ballots are ONLY in English. Disgraceful

    • Posted by Please Advise on

      You mean their names where written only in English, or? As opposed to their Inuktitut names?

  5. Posted by staffing? on

    I wonder if they struggled to find staff for polls? In our community the staff were only hired the day before the advance, were not trained and did not have all of the supplies. It’s crazy to think an advance poll is a privilege. Elections Canada has to provide the resources so ALL communities have the same access regardless of remoteness.

  6. Posted by Tom + on

    Similar situation for Nunavik – only Advance Poll is in Kuujjuaq – good for them, not so good for the rest of us.

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