QUEBEC CITY -- Quebec electoral authorities are preparing for the first polls opening during the COVID-19 era.

The Chief Electoral Officer announced his instructions for the upcoming municipal by-elections on Friday.

Residents of nine municipalities in the province will be called to the polls on Oct. 4.

Wearing a face covering will be compulsory, except when verifying the identity of voters. Those who wish can bring their own pencil.

Advance polling can be stretched over three days, Sept. 26, 27 and 28, with extended opening hours.

Voters can also apply for a mail-in ballot, especially if they are potential carriers of COVID-19.

No polling station is permitted in long-term care centres (CHSLDs), seniors' residences, rehabilitation centres, reception centres or hospitals.

Quebec suspended municipal by-elections from March 14 to Aug. 6 due to the health emergency.

Almost 20 municipalities were due to hold elections, but most were able to fill the positions by acclamation.

The nine municipalities that will indeed hold a poll are as follows:

  • Preissac and Saint-Marc-de-Figuery, in Abitibi-Temiscamingue;
  • Saint-Damase, in Bas-Saint-Laurent;
  • L'Ancienne-Lorette; in the Quebec City region;
  • Leclercville, in Chaudiere-Appalaches;
  • Arundel, in the Laurentians;
  • Sainte-Clotilde, Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac and Pointe-des-Cascades, in Montérégie.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2020.