FREDERICTON – Blaine Higgs called a snap election without having provided Elections New Brunswick with enough legal flexibility to ensure seniors’ right to vote in the current context. CUPE NB denounces this situation and demands the Premier intervene to ensure seniors’ Charter right to vote are guaranteed.
- Before calling the election, Premier Higgs could have convened the Legislature to ensure the NB Elections Act would have sufficient provisions and flexibility to deal with the realities of COVID-19.
- On August 25, Chief Electoral Officer Kim Poffenroth revealed to Brunswick News how the NB Elections Act did not give her the authority to create a special voting process, special hours, methods or any tailored voting process to help immunocompromised seniors. Voting by phone would have been possible in October if Election NB had received the go ahead before the election was called.
- The NB Council of Nursing-Home Unions has made it clear that there are insufficient staffing levels in nursing homes to assist Elections NB personnel to help seniors vote.
- “The Premier has knowingly planned an election without serious considerations for seniors’ right to vote. This is either crass negligence or an electoral move to raise barriers against the very people who would want to vote against his attempt at a power grab.” – Brien Watson, President of CUPE NB.
- “CUPE NB believes that seniors, just like any other group of citizens, deserve fairness and equity. Despite what Higgs might wish for, seniors’ right to vote is guaranteed under article 3 of the Charter. They should not face any barriers to exercise their constitutional right to vote.” – Brien Watson
- If citizens are unable to exercise their right to vote because of obstacles inherent in the electoral rules or the way they are implemented, these barriers constitute a restriction which is not allowed under Article 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- In 2017, GNB’ Aging Strategy showed there were 147,929 seniors in NB, which is equal to 19.5% of our total population.
 Bringing the Ballot Box to Voters: In 1992, Federal Bill C-78 was passed to make access to the vote easier in a number of ways. Among the improvements were mobile polling stations that serve many seniors and persons with disabilities in the institutions where they live. https://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=his&document=chap4&lang=e