Nicole Hajash, OneFeather's Vice President of Indigenous Engagement, leading the health and safety measures at the polls, addressed the social nature of events and the positive feedback received for OneFeather's efforts to keep communities safe during COVID-19:
Voting events are naturally social events and many members see this as a chance to catch up and touch base with other members they see at the polling station. But we've had to prioritize health and the response has been very positive from the community. Members are relieved to see measures being taken.
Healthy and safety measures at the polls:
OneFeather has adopted rigorous protocols during these difficult times to reduce the risk of person-to-perosn contact. We've aligned with guidelines from Indigenous Services Canada, and the federal government - and we've stepped them up a notch.
People who choose to vote at the polls, OneFeather has adopted the following health and safety measures:
- OneFeather will only send electoral officers in good health. Any electoral officer who displays any symptoms of illness, whether related to COVID-19 or otherwise, will not be sent to a nation.
- All electoral officers where masks and gloves during events.
- All electors are must answer a questionnaire before entering the venue regarding symptoms. • If any elector has a fever, cough, or any symptom of illness, whether believed to be COVID-19 or otherwise, will not be allowed into the polls. Instead they can still vote from home.
- Mandatory hand washing, or sanitization is required for everyone, including OneFeather staff, when they enter the venue.
- OneFeather limits the number of people who can enter a venue based on the most up to date advisory.
- Floors are marked to ensure clear physical distancing measures of a minimum of 6 feet between people.
- Double the tables (2 instead of 1) between electoral offices, deputy electoral offices, and voters, to ensure six feet between all people.
- First Nation security is required to maintain order and distancing.
- A No Pen Sharing Policy - OneFeather provides free sanitized pens to electors if they don't bring their own.
- Elderly and those who are high risk are advised not to attend the poll station -instead encouraged to vote from home (electronically, mail in ballot, etc.)
- Separate voting tables for elders to further reduce their risk of exposure.
- Disinfect poll booths and workstations before the event, and at minimum every 30 minutes (more frequent if the electoral officer is able).
- Direct the flow of traffic to easily exit immediately upon completion of votes casted.
- Only allow 3 members to assist with count (2 to witness count and one to livestream). • Close to general membership – no gathering
- Clear signage to guide voters through the health and safety measures.
- Consult First Nation health teams/staff for any additional recommendation steps
- Offer online engagement solutions, including virtual nomination meetings, and electronic voting.
- Offer additional solutions to Nations to keep members informed, safe, and voting.