Short election period 'a tight window' for some Islanders abroad

The short election period has some Islanders abroad questioning how they will submit their mail-in ballots on time.

'There are some people that unfortunately, this process isn't going to work'

To apply for a mail-in ballot, electors have to submit this application to Elections P.E.I. by Tuesday, April 9 at 6 p.m. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

The short election period has some Islanders away from home questioning how they will submit their mail-in ballots on time. 

People who are off-Island and are registered to vote are required to apply and submit a mail-in ballot through Elections P.E.I. 

Jim Honsberger and his wife Donna spend five and a half months in Florida each year and won't be back in time for the election.

He said he would have liked to have seen more information available.

"I'm sure we're not the only ones that are in this boat. It would have been nice to have that information at the get go."

Honsberger said he contacted his local MLA to ask how he and his wife could submit their vote.

"It's going to be a tight window," he said. "We definitely want to vote."

April 9 deadline

Tim Garrity, the chief electoral officer for Elections P.E.I., said the mail-in ballot process was launched on the Elections P.E.I. website immediately after the writ was dropped on March 26. 

He said to apply for a mail-in ballot, one has to download the application form, fill it out, sign it and then email, fax, mail or submit it in person to Elections P.E.I. by April 9 at 6 p.m. 

This means that those requiring mail-in ballots have less than two weeks to submit their applications. 

"That is when we have to receive your application … because once you apply for a mail-in ballot, that is the only way that you can vote."

Tim Garrity, the chief electoral officer for Elections P.E.I., says a large number of people have already contacted Elections P.E.I. with their applications for mail-in ballots. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Once applications are submitted, ballots will then be mailed out to electors on April 10. 

Garrity said ballots are mailed through express post and typically take one to two business days within Canada or the U.S.

"Internationally is a challenge but we will do our very best to get the ballots to everyone," he said. 

After the ballots are sent, it's up to voters to incur the postage cost and send it back to Elections P.E.I. no later than noon on April 23. Garrity said the split ballot will include one ballot to vote for an MLA and one for the referendum. 

We do not want to disenfranchise anybody who is eligible to vote. But we have to adhere to the rules that we have. It is a very short time frame.— Tim Garrity

He said as of Thursday morning he had already fielded 30 emails from people travelling overseas. 

"We also have had some other people say that they're going to be on a cruise ship. We can't send mail to a cruise ship. It's just not physically possible," he said.

"There are some people that unfortunately — this process isn't going to work."

On top of the short election period, Easter and Good Friday have also made the process more challenging. 

Garrity said special provisions were made this year to accommodate those who may not be on the Island on election day due to the holiday, and want to apply for a mail-in ballot.

He said they can register through the mail-in ballot process and then bring it in, in person at the Elections P.E.I. office on April 11, 12, 16 or 17.

"We're allowing that as a bit of a special opportunity because of the challenge around the Easter weekend right before election day."

Fixed election date could have helped

Garrity said Elections P.E.I. will be doing some advertising through social media to inform Islanders about the voting process. 

"We will have all of the dates set up on our website as well. We are looking at doing some other media advertising just so people are aware. We're just hoping to get the word out in any way that we can."

Garrity said a fixed election date would have alleviated some of these issues. 

"We do not want to disenfranchise anybody who is eligible to vote. But we have to adhere to the rules that we have. It is a very short time frame," he said.

"We understand that some people, it's not going to fit into their schedules."

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Isabella Zavarise is a video journalist with CBC in P.E.I. You can contact her at


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