Canada's first COVID-19 election could turn out to be a real mess this year as the only alternative to in-person voting is an unwieldy mail-in ballot system. 

Toronto's byelections are set to take place this month and residents will have to act fast to avoid crowded and possibly infectious voting places. 

If you are planning on voting through the mail this year, you should apply to get your ballots now.

However, you'll want to send them in sooner rather than later as Canada Post expects delays.  

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When are Toronto byelections taking place this year?

Despite rising COVID-19 case numbers this month, byelections for Toronto Centre and York Centre remain scheduled to take place on October 26.

Newly named Green Party Leader Annamie Paul, who is running in Toronto Centre for the first time, tweeted out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday.

The longtime activist called on the leader to suspend elections until the second wave of the disease passes.

However, Trudeau has remained steadfast in his decision to soldier on, arguing that delaying votes any further would be a mistake. 

"We made a determination that moving forward quickly on these byelections was probably the safest thing to do," he told CBC.

How will Toronto voting take place during the pandemic?

Residents are still unable to cast their votes online, however. 

"Elections Canada did not consider introducing Internet voting. Implementing such a change would require significant planning and testing in order to ensure the confidentiality, secrecy, reliability, and integrity of the vote," Elections Canada told Narcity when asked about online voting this year. 

"It would require Parliament to make changes to the Canada Elections Act. Given the current operational and time constraints, this option cannot be explored properly at this time," they added.

Instead, anyone looking to avoid lining up in-person will have to mail in their ballot. 

In order for your ballot to make it in time, you'll want to send it off early. Canada Post warns that mailing delays are to be expected. 

"Canadians should anticipate parcel delays for the foreseeable future, even as Canada Post delivers at record levels," wrote the company on its website. 

"As Canadians continue to ramp up and diversify their online shopping, Canada Post is responding to unprecedented parcel volumes while maintaining important physical distancing measures in all our facilities."

Voters can also still cast their ballots in person across the city, with social distancing measures in place. 

When is your last chance to mail in a ballot?

Anyone looking to vote by mail has no time to waste.

To start, you’ll need to submit a government ID that shows your home address and name. 

Once completed, you will need to either mail, fax or submit your form in person. 

If your application is approved, voters will then receive “a special ballot voting kit.”

It’s also worth noting that once you apply to vote by mail, you will not be able to change your mind and vote at a polling place.

Elections Canada must receive your completed application by 6:00 p.m. on October 20, 2020, which just gives you exactly one week to get it all done.