Pandemic Elections: What Other Countries Voted During COVID-19? – National

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For the first time in Canadian political history, federal elections are being held during a global pandemic.

When Justin Trudeau called early voting last month, there was an outcry from opposition leaders over the election schedule amid a fourth wave of COVID-19.

Trudeau has repeatedly defended his decision, saying at a press conference last week that he has no regrets about calling the election.

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The example of Canada is not the first. In fact, since March 2020, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), dozens of countries have voted in local and national elections – albeit under strict restrictions and protocols. security.

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Dr Horacio Bach, an infectious disease expert at the University of British Columbia, said it is safe to hold an election as long as all public health guidelines are followed.

“If everyone continues (to follow) the guidelines, it is more than likely that the transmissibility will be minimal or close to zero,” he told Global News.

With over 78% of the eligible population fully vaccinated, Bach said he did not expect a huge spike in cases after the election, but it is something that will need to be watched in the future, a- he declared.

Global News took a look at a few other countries that voted during COVID-19, what measures were in place, and how the results turned out.


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South Korea

In April 2020, South Korea was among the first countries to hold a national vote since the start of the pandemic.

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President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party won an absolute majority in the legislative elections which set a record voter turnout of 66.2%, the highest in nearly 30 years.

Strict COVID-19 measures were in place, with authorities disinfecting the 14,000 polling stations and requiring voters to wear masks, have their temperatures checked, use hand sanitizer and plastic gloves, and maintain a physical distance from others.

Despite nearly 30 million people coming to vote, there were no cases of local transmission linked to the elections, according to public health officials.


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Burundi

Following a tense campaign marred by reports of violence, arrests and intimidation, the African nation of Burundi elected a new president in May 2020.

Ruling party candidate Evariste Ndayishimiye was declared the winner after winning 67% of the vote. Over four million people voted.

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Voters were urged to leave after voting and no gatherings were allowed near polling stations.

A few days before the May 20 poll, the country expelled the WHO national chief and three members of his team, without giving reasons.

Serbia

In June 2020, Serbia became the first European country to hold national elections since the continent’s containment.

The parliamentary vote was originally scheduled for April, but has been postponed due to concerns over COVID-19.

The ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) of President Aleksandar Vučić won a landslide victory with over 60% of the vote.

Masks were not mandatory but recommended, and they were made available to voters at polling stations.

Weeks later, authorities declared a state of emergency in the capital Belgrade, reimposing some restrictions after a wave of infections.

Football matches with thousands of fans, religious festivities and legislative elections have reportedly contributed to the surge in cases.


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Sri Lanka

After delaying them twice, Sri Lanka held its legislative elections in August 2020 which gave President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his older brother Mahinda an overwhelming majority.

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According to health guidelines issued by the government, parties have been advised to limit election rallies to 300 people, which could be expanded to allow 500 people for events attended by party leaders. The door-to-door campaign was limited to five people.

Ahead of the election, the South Asian nation also hosted a mock election to test COVID-19 measures, including masks, face shields, physical distancing, and voters bringing their own pens and pencils to mark ballots.

Sri Lankan voters wear face masks and wash their hands as a precaution against the coronavirus before voting outside a polling station in legislative elections in Colombo.


Photo by Saman Abesiriwardana / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images


United States

The COVID-19 pandemic was at the center of a polarizing election campaign in the United States that saw Democrat Joe Biden defeat his Republican opponent Donald Trump.

More than 91,000 new daily infections were recorded on November 4, bringing the number of cases nationwide to more than 9.38 million people.

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While many Americans took advantage of expanded access to postal voting, the lines were long at many polling stations across the country.

The 2020 U.S. presidential election saw a record turnout of nearly 158 million, or 66.2 percent of eligible voters, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.

During the campaign, Trump, a vocal critic of the lockdown restrictions, drew fierce criticism from political opponents, voters and health experts for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.


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Israel

Israel, a world leader in COVID-19 vaccination, held parliamentary elections in March this year.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing allies failed to win a parliamentary majority.

After weeks of political stalemate, Israel’s parliament in June approved a new coalition government that sent Netanyahu into opposition after a record 12 years in power.

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Naftali Bennett, leader of a small ultra-nationalist party, was sworn in as the new prime minister on June 13.

Japan

In April 2021, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost all three seats in the parliamentary by-elections.

Anger at the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the slow rollout of the vaccine contributed to the election outcome, analysts said.

General elections are expected to take place later this year. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who replaced Shinzo Abe last year and saw his approval rating drop during the pandemic, has announced he will not be running.


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Iran

In June, the Iranians elected the country’s new president.

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The die-hard head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, won a landslide victory in a vote that recorded the lowest turnout in a presidential poll in the history of the Islamic Republic. Some 48.8 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

Voter apathy has been fueled in part by the devastated state of the economy and a moderate campaign amid months of surging COVID-19 cases.

On polling day, poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped the ballot boxes with disinfectants.

– with files from Reuters, The Associated Press


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