Saanich byelection early voting starts today, but not by mail

High costs, low turnout not enough to justify mail-in ballots

Ralph Smith is a 92-year-old Royal Marine.

He’s been on Arrow Road since 1975 and has paid close attention to Saanich’s municipal election scene. He’d dearly like to vote in Saanich’s byelection for the vacant councillor seat on Sept. 23, but he hasn’t been to a voter’s booth since his mobility took a hit in 2005.

So he was hoping that, like the federal election he regularly votes in by mail, Saanich would include a mail-in ballot too.

“I can go about 20 or 30 feet with a walker but I can’t go long distances, getting to a polling station for me and my wife is more than a bit of an effort,” said Smith, adding he’s left the house about 12 times since 2005.

Unfortunately for Smith, due to the costs of including mail-in ballots for a byelection, coupled with the time limits and historically low voter turnout for byelections (Saanich included), Chief Election Officer Angila Bains (who is also the new Manager of Legislative Services) has opted to exclude them.

“In 2014, our general local election drew 34. 7 per cent of eligible voters,” Bains said. “And [Saanich’s] last general local election drew 137 mail-in ballots [in 2014], that’s .16 per cent.”

The challenge in a byelection is the short turnaround. Staff don’t know who is on the ballot until Aug. 18, then have to wait two to three weeks to get the physical ballots in house. To then mail them out to those who’ve requested them and then process them once they return is a costly amount of resources, Bains said.

However, mail-in ballots will be available for the general 2018 municipal election, said Bains, who’s new to Saanich but has worked as a chief and deputy chief election officer multiple times since 2004 with the District of North Vancouver and Corporation of Delta.

For Smith, the worry is that in Saanich’s historically close elections (the eighth council seat was won by 30 votes in 2014), cutting out the mail-in only ballots is cutting out a specific niche of voters.

“If you rub out all the voters with a mobility issue, you rub out a like-minded group of individuals,” he said.

Advanced voting continues Monday, Sept. 18, at Saanich Municipal Hall, 770 Vernon Ave., from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Curb-side voting is offered to those who arrive but have limited mobility.

Voting day is Saturday, Sept. 23, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Cedar Hill Rec., Gordon Head Rec. Pearkes Rec. and Saanich Common wealth Place.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Success brewing for Saanich company

Magazine names Oughtred Coffee Macro Roaster of the Year

Canadian Tire’s Fix-A-Heart campaign holds personal meaning for some staff

Annual cardiac care campaign aims to push total raised to more than $1 million in 14th year

Songhees youth among those recognized by province for achievement in sport

Team BC athletes in North American Indigenous Games, Canada Summer Games recognized

Pedestrian struck in downtown Sidney after receiving safety reflector

Man treated for minor injures by police who were at the scene handing out reflectors

Wait is over for Willows students

École Willows portables complete - students moved in Monday

VIDEO: Innovating healthier homes

NZ Builders bring commercial concept into residential realm to improve energy efficiency and health

Opioid prescriptions up across Canada: report

The report shows the number of opioid prescriptions rose by almost seven per cent, while daily doses on average dropped

Ikea relaunches dresser recall after eighth child dies

Recall is for all Ikea chest and dressers and include 8 million Malm chest and dressers that were sold from 2002 through June 2016.

UPDATE: Washington Governor Jay Inslee visits B.C.

Premier John Horgan talks trains, trade with southern neighbour

Viral video shows deer killed on Snapchat in Campbell River

RCMP say they have identified those involved and are working with conservation officers

BC Conservatives call for ICBC reform

Leader Scott Anderson of Vernon calls ICBC ‘national embarrassment

Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Kosovo president Hashim Thaci warns that Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Health Canada hints at government’s plans for legal pot

Health warnings, plain covers for pot packs under proposed regulations

Washington governor tells BC don’t be ‘daunted’ by Trump

“I want to assure this assembly that no matter who is in the White House, it won’t affect Washington state’s relationship with Canada or British Columbia.”

Most Read