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City to offer mail-in vote

Salmon Arm residents will have one more way to vote in November’s municipal election.

City council has passed a bylaw that will allow the electorate to vote this year by mail-in ballot.

A staff memorandum to council explains registered voters must fill out an application form (to be available online or at city hall), and submit it to the city’s chief election officer (CEO). Because ballots cannot be printed until one week after nomination period closes, staff estimates there will be a three-week window for ballots to be mailed out and returned (at the city’s cost) to the CEO. “This could be problematic should the voter be outside of the country during this period,” the memo states.

Spoiled ballots can be replaced upon request of the elector and the spoiled ballot package is returned to the city in its entirety.

“The timeline is going to be tight and it has got to fit the person’s… holiday plan in order to make it work,” said Coun. Alan Harrison, adding the bylaw offers one more opportunity for people to vote.

Coun. Chad Eliason commented on how voter turnout at municipal elections is abysmal, and suggested the next council look at a policy to enable online voting.

“You trust your banking information, you trust your emails and your personal records to online and your medical records to online,” said Eliason. “In order to get voter turnout up, we have to try everything…”

Coun. Ken Jamieson agreed, but noted how there’s a greater cost involved to broadening the franchise. He  pointed out how the cost per mail-in ballot for local government is $8.50, while it’s $4.32 per election-day vote.

Coun. Marg Kentel said the one way to increase voter turnout is to have a controversial referendum tied to each election.

“Other than that, from my years of being on council, I just can’t really see where we can do too much to excite people to come and vote,” said Kentel.

 

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