The city says that voters in Ward 22 can start requesting mail-in ballots today for a byelection being held next month to choose a new councillor to represent Toronto’s Scarborough-Agincourt area.

“To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, Toronto Elections is offering Mail-in Voting as an alternative option to in-person voting for the Councillor Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt by-election,” the city said in a news release.

Toronto City council called for the byelection to replace former Ward 22 councillor Jim Karygiannis, who was removed from office in September after exhausting his legal options to appeal a court ruling that turfed him from office over campaign expenses.

The byelection is set to be held on Friday, January 15, 2021.

Nominations closed Monday and there are 27 candidates registered to run in the race.

While in-person voting will still be held on advance voting days on Jan. 8, 9 and 10, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day, the city is offering mail-in voting to accommodate those who don’t want to venture out in-person to cast a ballot.

Toronto is currently under a lockdown to try and tamp down runaway spread of COVID-19. While the lockdown is slated to end prior to the election, the province has said that it might extend the restrictions if the numbers are not going in the right direction.

Those wanting to cast a ballot by mail can apply to do so online until 4 p.m. on Dec. 22. Voting packages will then be sent out to eligible voters.

All the required mail-in voting materials, including a completed ballot and a signed declaration, must be received by the city by 6 p.m. on election day.

Mail-in voting materials can be sent back by mail using an included postage-paid envelope, or dropped off at either the Stephen Leacock Seniors Community Centre (2520 Birchmount Rd.) or the L’Amoreaux Community Recreation Centre (2000 McNicoll Ave.).

Voters who are unable to vote in person or by mail can also request a Voting Proxy Appointment form to allow another eligible voter to vote on their behalf. The forms can be found on the city’s website and returned by emailing or calling 311.

Whoever wins the byelection will serve for the rest of the term until the next municipal election in 2022, when they will be able to run for reelection.

Elections Canada offered mail-in voting in two recent federal byelections in Toronto and found that relatively few people took advantage of the option. However those elections were held when the city was under less stringent COVID-19 restrictions.