Esquimalt mayor seeks change to municipal voting

Barb Desjardins hopes to engage even more voters in the next municipal election

Voter turnout was up 15 per cent this past election in Esquimalt, but Mayor Barb Desjardins thinks the township still has a long way to go to encourage voters.

Last summer, Esquimalt council reviewed options for election procedures, such as the use of mail ballots, polls at care facilities and the use of the provincial election voters list.

However, council decided not to include these voting options for the 2014 election cycle.

“During the campaign . . . I received concern that people would not be able to vote as a result of the decisions made,” said Desjardins. “In a time when we want to increase voter turnout, engage everyone that we can, to limit ability is to say we don’t care if you vote, sending the opposite message that we want.”

Desjardins proposed a motion to council to request staff to bring forward the report prepared for council in the summer of 2014, which reviewed election procedures pre-election, for council to consider and provide direction to staff for the next municipal election in 2018.

“We have a long way to go to feel we have the majority of our voting residents engaged and speaking through their vote,” said Desjardins.

Meanwhile, Elections BC recently released the financial disclosure statements for candidates in B.C. from the 2014 municipal election.

Desjardins’ expenses totalled $11,975, compared to challengers Scott Attrill and John Ducker at $1,163.23 and $12,045.29, respectively.

In Victoria, Dean Fortin and Ida Chong topped the charts in their total expenses for the mayoral race at $128,636.45 and $108,120.45, respectively. Current Mayor Lisa Helps listed her total expenses as $88,564.06.