By Captain Chelsea Dubeau
When a snap provincial election was called in September, it presented a unique dilemma for deployed members on board Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg: how would sailors cast their votes while sailing halfway around the world?
The usual method for federal elections – mail-in ballots – was out; COVID-19’s impact on the mail and supply chain saw to that.
Fortunately, a collaborative effort between senior staff onboard Winnipeg and at Maritime Forces Pacific, Canadian Fleet Pacific and Elections B.C., helped make this endeavour possible.
Ballots could not be cast via regular mail—there was simply not enough time—and pre-registration was also off the table. By the time options had been weighed for how to facilitate voting, the pre-registration window for eligible voters had already passed.
What came about was an innovative solution that hadn’t before been used in a deployed naval environment: assisted, telephone voting.
Typically reserved for those members of the electorate who are unable to vote in person, due to disability for example, members onboard Winnipeg were given the opportunity to cast their vote via telephone from Oct. 9 right up until the provincial election date of Oct. 24. The ship’s Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephones were used for the purpose, and pre-registration wasn’t required. In fact, several voters onboard were able to register right over the telephone.
Identification was required and…