Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer declines to move election day despite conflict with Jewish High Holiday
mounsey / Pixabay
Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer declines to move election day despite conflict with Jewish High Holiday

The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada declined to move election day despite requests from the Orthodox Jewish Community.

Section 56.1 of the Canada Elections Act stipulates that general elections are to be held on the third Monday of October of the fourth year since the last general election. The Chief Electoral Officer has broad discretion over election day including the opportunity to recommend an alternate day if election day conflicts with days of religious or cultural significance. If the Chief Electoral Officer decides to exercise this discretion, the Chief Electoral Officer is required to recommend either the Tuesday after election day or the following Monday as substitutes for election day.

Election Day is currently scheduled for October 21, 2019, which conflicts with the Jewish High Holiday of Shemini Atzeret. The Chief Electoral Officer was asked by Chani Aryeh-Bain, an Orthodox Jewish Candidate, and Ira Walfish, an Orthodox Jewish Elector, to consider moving election day. The Chief Electoral Officer declined and the community took their case to the Federal Court of Canada. The Federal Court ordered the Chief Electoral Officer to reconsider recommending a change to election day based on the evidence presented. The Chief Electoral Officer considered the evidence but ultimately chose not to recommend moving election day citing advanced polling places and special ballots as opportunities for the Jewish community to vote in spite of the High Holidays.

Elections will be held on the currently scheduled date of October 21 with advanced polling days available in the weeks leading up to that.