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Uncertainty surrounds election delay in Newfoundland and Labrador

BY , Feb 11, 2021 6:37 PM - REPORT AN ERROR

Liberal Leader Andrew Furey, left to right, Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie and NDP Leader Alison Coffin pose for a photo following their televised debate from the floor of the House of Assembly in St. John's N.L. on Wednesday, February 3, 2021. Newfoundland and Labrador is entering uncharted legal territory as the province's chief electoral officer has called for Saturday's provincial election to be delayed in 17 ridings because of a sudden COVID-19 surge. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

Voting is being postponed in parts of Newfoundland in Saturday's provincial election.

The elections officer is delaying voting in 18 districts across the Avalon Peninsula, including in St. John's.

Officials say with a record 53 new COVID-19 cases and 32 presumptive cases reported yesterday, they can't hang on to enough workers to staff the polls.

Voting will go ahead as planned in other parts of the province, but the results won't be released until all the voting has been completed.

Mail-in voting options have been extended.

Prof. Michael Pal, a University of Ottawa law professor who specializes in elections and constitutional law, says the province's Elections Act does not include provisions that specifically deal with suspending the vote in this kind of situation.

Pal says the province's chief electoral officer has broad powers, but it would appear they have never been used in this manner.

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