Elections P.E.I. prepares while waiting for provincial election call

Elections P.E.I. is preparing for the next provincial election as much as it can without knowing officially when it will be.

'It's like you're trying to book your vacation but you don't know when your flight is going to leave'

Chief Electoral Officer Tim Garrity says while the signs are ready to go to returning officers' headquarters in the 27 districts, spaces for those headquarters haven't yet been officially rented. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Elections P.E.I. is busy getting ready for the next provincial election, while awaiting an official date to actually be set.

The province's governing Liberal party has the ability to call the next election at any time, but many are expecting the call this spring.

"It definitely does have its challenges," said Tim Garrity, the chief electoral officer with Elections P.E.I.

"Something I would compare it to that most people could understand is, it's like you're trying to book your vacation but you don't know when your flight is going to leave."

Garrity said supplies and Election P.E.I. signs are ready to go whenever the campaign does officially begin

Venues, volunteers in limbo

Until then the organization must wait to book office spaces, polling stations and hire the roughly 2,000 people to help work the election.

Elections P.E.I. says while there are potential workers, office spaces and polling stations lined up in all 27 districts, it's difficult to officially hire workers and book spaces until the election is called. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Garrity said it has been hard to get people to fully commit when they don't know when they'll be needed.

"Without being able to tell them exactly what their start day is going to be or what days we're going to need them on, maybe this is a bit of an idea of a window we have, so that can be very challenging," Garrity said.

Many locations that are often used for election purposes are also getting booked up for April and May.

'We can't guess'

"We can only have it available if you warn us," says Catherine Edward, who works with St. Peter's Cathedral in Charlottetown and manages the hall booking.

The St. Peter's Cathedral hall is already booked to be used as a polling station on Oct. 21, the fixed date for the federal election. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The hall has been used in past federal, provincial and municipal elections. It has already been booked for the Oct. 21 federal election.

"You have to book it. We can't guess when the next election's going to be, so we wait on the government — but we cannot hold a space for them, because this facility is for everybody."

The next provincial election will also hold a referendum on electoral reform. The government began the referendum period in January.

Catherine Edward takes care of bookings at the St. Peter's Cathedral hall and says there's no guarantee it will be available to be used as a polling station, as it was during the last provincial election. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

According to the legislation, the last day an election can be called is Sept. 3.

Islanders will vote on the election ballot whether to change to a mixed-member proportional voting system or keep the status quo.

'We just don't know'

Garrity said the decision and timing of the election is in the government's hands and Elections P.E.I. has not been given a heads-up.

Elections P.E.I. staff have spent a lot of time eyeing the calendar, calculating possible dates when the election may be called. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

"We do not know when the election is going to be. We do look at the calendar. We look at dates. We look at possibilities as to if the writ was dropped here, when would election day be?" he said. "the reality is, we just don't know."

Garrity said he's confident Elections P.E.I. will come up with enough polling stations and staff for the election.

"Of course, there are some things that we just can't do until the writ is dropped ... our feet are running in the air and we will hit the ground running as soon as it happens."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Steve Bruce


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?