MONTREAL -- Voting this year will look different than in years past, as this is the first federal election in a pandemic.

Officials hope to make voting as easy and as safe as possible.

Preparations are already underway in the Summerlea United Church ballroom, one of the places where some Lachine residents can vote.

Church members say they've been renting the space all year, but with strict COVID-19 restrictions.



Nancy Mark, a member of the Summerlea congregation, says she hopes voters will opt to sign in at the church "so we can do contact tracing if there's an issue."

But unlike wearing masks, contact tracing at the polls is voluntary, according to Elections Canada.

"It's not the responsibility of Elections Canada but of the health authority," explains Elections Canada spokesperson Pierre Pilon.

Nevertheless, voting locations like Summerlea United Church are encouraging visitors to provide their contact information as they head for the polls.



Voting by mail is one option for those who feel unsafe casting their ballots in person. Elections Canada says voters should make a plan and choose the voting option that best suits them.

But this creates another issue: in past elections, there were roughly 50,000 votes cast by mail, while this year, that number is estimated to be "closer to 750,000 so far," according to Pilon.

This figure could mean delayed results, he says, especially with a labour shortage — it isn't easy for Elections Canada to find staff in the current circumstances.



Meanwhile, the Old Brewery Mission is holding early voting in an effort to allow those with no fixed address the chance to cast their ballots.

"Sometimes it's hard to have proof of ID if you're homeless. But here we can provide proof of address for some of the people we know," says Anna Torres, clinical services coordinator at Old Brewery Mission.

They also made it easier to vote by offering bus tickets to those in need.