Saskatoon senior says he won't be able to vote after retirement home polling station moved due to COVID-19
SASKATOON -- In past elections, a polling station was set up at Art Shepherd’s care home.
“That made it easy and convenient for all the residents here to cast their ballots,” Shepherd told CTV News.
But this year, that’s not the case.
Elections Saskatchewan says traditionally the polling station at the Primrose Chateau Retirement Residence is used by both seniors of the facility and other nearby residents.
To avoid possible gathering and contact under COVID-19 concerns, the poll was moved to St. Anne’s Catholic Church.
“This election, we were told by Primrose Chateau that outside residents would not be allowed to come inside and vote there as in the past. Therefore we moved the poll nearby to St. Anne’s Church,” Elections Saskatchewan told CTV News in an email.
Shepherd says he and other residents have mobility issues which make it difficult to travel the 700 meters to the church.
Even if Shepherd could easily leave, he says he has concerns about contracting COVID-19 at the polling station.
“We don’t want to go into crowds and most of us have ambulatory problems, just getting around is a problem. It would be terribly convenient just to have it right here,” he said.
Primrose Chateau said it will be providing an accessible shuttle for residents needing help getting to the polls.
It’s up to private care homes to decide whether or not to host a polling station. More than 400 licensed personal care facilities in Saskatchewan are holding in-person voting, according to Elections Saskatchewan.
Shepherd says he assumed there would be a polling station inside the care home as in previous years.
When the 79-year-old retired school principal learned there wouldn’t be a polling station inside his facility, he says it was too late for him to vote through mail.
Elections Saskatchewan says it sent out information about the vote-by-mail option to the administrator of the retirement residence on Oct. 6.
Shepherd, who has worked elections in the past, says he would have happily run a poll in the care home to ensure seniors have their opportunity to vote.
“We have 140 people here. We’re old, but we’re not infirm. We’re quite capable of doing things. Give us the tools, and we’ll run our own polling station,” he said.
“These are the people that built this province. They not only have every right, they should be encouraged."