Byelection day for vacant Flin Flon city council seat - polls open until 8 p.m.

Flin Flon voters are casting their ballots today to see who will fill an empty spot on city council.

Voting is taking place at City Hall until 8 p.m. Wednesday. Five candidates are in the running for the open spot - Gatlin Church, Carrie Hume, Barry Kreller, Angela Simpson and Tom Therien.

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All voters will require a photo ID to vote.

Special rules and procedures are in place for the voting to avoid possible COVID-19 spread. There are now marks on the floor to keep people spaced out while waiting to vote or while voting and hand sanitizer stations by the entrance. All voters must wear masks while inside City Hall and while voting.

"Last week, we had masks recommended. Now, with the new update from Manitoba Health, we're saying masks are compulsory," said senior election official Katy Anderson.

"We do have masks here if people don't have them, but we're noting that most people are coming in with their own on already."

Also compulsory for the vote is the route voters will take through the building - after coming inside, election officials will confirm the voter's identity inside council chambers, then point the voter to a predetermined polling location. Once the voter has cast their vote, they will leave council chambers through the back door, instead of turning back into the lobby and leaving through there.

"After they vote, they go out a separate door so people aren't crossing paths. We have a person designated for sanitizing every surface that people have touched, including the outside doors and every table and voting station," Anderson said.

The number of voters allowed in City Hall at any time will be limited if larger crowds of people show up. Anderson said that voter turnout so far has not required enforcing any capacity limits.

"We haven't had the need to do that yet, but we will be if it gets too busy. We're just keeping an eye on people and they're respecting the marks on the floor and lining up," she said.

First-time voters who are not yet on the City's voters list can swear an oath at City Hall if they are over 18 years old, have lived in Flin Flon for more than six months and are a Canadian citizen. Voters who have recently changed addresses in the community are also able to cast a ballot.

"They can be sworn and given the oath of the voter, then they can vote," Anderson said.

Turnout has been good a few hours into election day, with City Hall fully prepared for people to come in and cast their ballots.

"We're having a pretty steady turnout, so that's great. We were really pleased, the City guys were cleaning the sidewalks and the parking lot this morning and sanding before we even opened," Anderson said.

For other questions, call Flin Flon City Hall during office hours at (204) 687-7511.

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