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Community Comment: There’s a lot of work required to pull off an election

Please don’t say elections don’t matter. To these people they do. Very much so.
Federal election vote sign
Community columnist Brad Sherwin talks about his work with Elections Canada.

Monday’s election was a little like when I had to replace my water heater…one day I had hot water…then I gave someone a bunch of money…and then I had hot water.

Regardless, being able to execute a safe election, even in a pandemic, is an incredible accomplishment. Most people don’t understand what it takes to do this in 338 electoral districts across Canada. I didn’t either, even though I have worked in elections since 2009, until this one.

This time, I was on the inside, as the training officer for South Delta. I worked in the office with all the recruiters, poll operations managers, the people who looked after sorting all the materials, updating the electors’ lists and any number of other requirements. Just figuring out and arranging for the polling place you went to, took a lot of time, and coordination.

This doesn’t happen by magic, it’s a lot of hard work by a lot of people who, frankly, don’t really get paid all that well. The stress, the hours, the pressure is incredible, yet all these people come together for a short period of time to make democracy happen.

You had to wait for 45 minutes? Be glad you were able to express your opinion on how the country is run without fear of reprisal or injury. Election Day started at 6 a.m. for these people, and for many it didn’t end until 2:30 a.m.

I don’t know how many people I trained to be information officers (who met you at the door), registration officers (who looked after your ID issues and pointed you to the right place) deputy returning officers (who gave you your ballot and made sure it was counted) and central poll supervisors (who made sure everything was safe and efficient).

It was more than 100 people, and maybe close to 200. I met so many great people. Even more impressive were the 16-year-olds who came in to be part of it, even though they couldn’t vote themselves. Mind you, a day off from school and some money in the pocket isn’t a bad trade…

I started training folks Aug. 31 and ran three-hour sessions, most days two back-to-back, all but five days. I think that must have been the worst part for them, having to listen to me for three hours. The CPSs had to do three sessions. Compare that to having to stand in line.

Thanks to all who worked the polls, but a special thanks to those who worked in the District Office, tirelessly and unselfishly, to make Election 44 happen.

Please don’t say elections don’t matter. To these people they do. Very much so.

Brad Sherwin, MBA is a long-time resident of South Delta, and has over 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He teaches at BCIT, coaches hockey goalies and is Past President of Deltassist.