Dartmouth church polling station location questioned as pastor is a candidate
'Separate the polling station and the workplace of the candidate,' says voter Carole Beattie
Some voters say they're not comfortable with Elections Canada setting up a polling station at a church in the Nova Scotia riding of Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.
The polling station is in Regal Heights Baptist Church, where Conservative candidate Jason Cole is the lead pastor.
"It just doesn't sit well with me, like, why would you go to someone's workplace and vote knowing that one of the people you could vote for is the head of that organization? I'm just not comfortable with it," said Carole Beattie, who lives in the riding.
She said she has no ties to any candidate or party.
Beattie said when she got her voting card and saw where the polling station was, she wondered why Elections Canada decided to choose the church.
And she wasn't alone, CBC News received several emails from other people wondering the same thing.
"This could have been planned a little better, somebody should have come up beforehand, before voting starts to say this might be an issue to separate the polling station and the workplace of the candidate," said Beattie.
She worries that Cole's name or picture may be posted in the church and that could influence people's voting decisions.
Elections Canada said that won't happen because a returning officer will visit the church before voting begins and remove anything inside the building connected to any candidate.
"As long as the place where the voting takes place is free of any campaigning, any advertising, any partisanship, then it is a suitable site to organize the vote," said Françoise Enguehard, an Elections Canada spokesperson.
She said just because Cole is the church's pastor does not make the site partisan.
Church was previously used as a polling location
Enguehard said adding rules to prevent situations like this would make it difficult to find polling locations.
"You could say the same thing in a school where a principal or a teacher is running, or any other, you know, Lions Club where one of the members is running," she said. "The issue here is that no partisan advertising or work can take place in any poll location and this place is no exception."
Enguehard said the Regal Heights Baptish Church was used in previous elections.
She said if people feel uncomfortable going to the church, they can vote using advanced polls, which are held at a different location, or they can vote until Oct. 15 via special ballot at any Elections Canada office.
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