I was fired from Elections Canada voting day for using the washroom without permission?
I am an engineer, physicist, and usually a climate scientist and part-time professor. Today, Election Day in Canada (Monday October 18th) I was a polling clerk in the Ottawa Centre riding, Polling Station #77 at Rochester Towers (280 Rochester Street).
At least I had this Elections Canada job (for which I had 3 hours of training in early October) until I was fired by the Central Poll Supervisor (CPS) at about noon for going to the washroom without permission. Actually, there were no voters at the polling station at the time, and I mentioned to the Deputy Returning Officer at my table that I needed to dart out to the washroom. Apparently, the Supervisor took offence for not being in the loop, and they told me they were calling Elections Canada. About 30 minutes later, they informed me that I had to leave my post and the polling station. I think that is being fired.
Was the reason really a washroom break without permission? I did not know that rule. I had pointed out that now that I knew it, that I would abide by it. I note that they had arrived about 15 minutes late in the morning (everybody was supposed to be there at 8:30 am). It did not help that my Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) was sick, my replacement DRO had not trained for that position, and a replacement of the replacement arrived just before opening time. Fortunately, there was only a trickle of voters at opening. Maybe all this stress put the CPS over the top. Or maybe it was something else…
It is standard Election Canada procedure that the ballot boxes must be sealed with tape along each of the edges before the voting started at 9:30 am. Not only that, the seal numbered and logged on a form. To protect the integrity of the ballot to ensure a fair election. For my Station #77 the DRO and myself started to seal our box and we were told not to by the CPS. Same with the other two ballot boxes in the room.
The CPS said that the boxes were not taped in the advance polls that she was at, and we were not to do this. We got busy with lots of voters and let it slide, but when we had a lull around 11:30 am we went ahead on our own accord and sealed the ballot box, and told Station #76 to do so also. Following that, the CPS was very annoyed at us. And then my bathroom trip may have pushed them over the edge, or they were waiting for an opening?
Was I really fired? As I was waiting at the entrance trying to discuss my situation via phone with the main Elections Office in this riding, two very pleasant Elections Canada people arrived, and I explained things to them. Since a replacement for me had already arrived at that station, they drove me to the main office. The office did find a different location/position for me, starting at 8:30 pm tonight. So maybe I was not fired? We shall see.
Addendum: Story continues. I arrived at a different polling station at 8:30 pm as requested, and no work yet; thus my message…