What is more important: the fundamental right to vote, or quarantine rules amid a Granthshala pandemic that has so far killed more than 4.5 million people?
It is a question that a man from BC had not thought about until he recently contracted COVID-19 and was asked to quarantine for two weeks.
Salmon Arm’s Dennis Kontos said he would remain in isolation – in accordance with internal health regulations – until midnight on Tuesday, meaning he would not be able to vote in Monday’s federal election.
Kontos said he understood the importance of self-isolation, but said he ran away when he tried to contact officials about how to vote.
“They’re basically telling me I’m losing my vote because I can’t go and vote,” Kontos said. “I’m a very strong, stubborn person when it comes to voting; I think it’s our right to do so.
“I vote every time and I find (it) very unacceptable.”
Kontos said he is not asking to visit a polling station, “but he should have thought of a plan for this situation in advance, and he didn’t.”
He claimed information about voting on the Elections Canada website and COVID-19 directed him to his local health agency, Internal Health, where he asked about alternative methods of voting.
He said that internal health told him to contact his Member of Parliament. From there, he said he was asked to contact Elections Canada, which then referred him for internal health.
“As you can see, we’re going in circles.”
Kontos said he began feeling ill on Sunday night, then went for curbside testing on Monday afternoon.
After his test came back positive on Wednesday night, internal health contacted him on Thursday about being in isolation till September 22.
He said he planned to visit the advanced polls last Monday, but changed his plans after falling ill.
“Nobody has a solution,” Kontos said. “There are literally thousands of people across the country who would be in the same boat as I am – if we were diagnosed earlier on election day on Monday.”
As for requesting a special mail-in ballot, he said that by the time he found out he was sick, the deadline to apply had passed.
“The only option (after the advanced polls and mail-in ballot deadline) is to vote in person at the election,” said Election Canada’s Andrea Marantz. “Of course, this is not possible for those who are in isolation.
“It’s not a matter of electing. It’s a matter of obeying the law as it is written (in the Canada Election Act).
Marantz said that every year things happen that prevent people from voting, “that’s not a circumstance that’s covered in the Canada Election Act.”
Granthshala News has contacted North Okanagan Conservative MP Arnold-Schuswap for comment.
Meanwhile, Kontos said he wondered why the government could conduct curbside testing for COVID-19 but not curbside voting, and that there should be other options for everyone such as absenteeism or online voting. .
“They should make the exception to the rule because we are all stuck in this vacuum of not being able to (vote) and we don’t know what the next steps are,” he said.
“It is our constitutional right to vote. That’s what we cherish in Canada. That’s what we want.”