Mail-in ballots tried and true

Victoria to continue polling-station alternative in November election

Victoria first tried mail-in ballots during a recent byelection, and will provide the option to voters again in the upcoming civic election. Only those unable to vote at a polling station can apply.

In total, 81 people voted by mail last November, although more mail ballots were sent then returned.

“We certainly saw an increased turnout at extended care facilities, and it captured those who were absent for holidays,” said Rob Woodland, Victoria’s director of legislative and regulatory services.

That byelection saw 26 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots. The numbers were similar to those seen in the 2008 general election, but without a larger sample size it’s still too early to determine the impact of mail ballots on the overall total.

The challenge, according to city spokesperson Katie Josephson, is the timeframe. Mail ballots are only available 10 days prior to general voting day, leaving people little time to return them, especially for people out of country, she explained.

Saanich is also adopting mail ballots for the first time this year to facilitate voting for various groups of people, including snowbirds, students studying abroad and those with mobility challenges.

Esquimalt won’t be able to introduce mail-in balloting for residents this municipal election, though the concept has merit, said Mayor Barb Desjardins.

“If I’m elected I’d like to look at it for the next election because we have a number of people that go away in the fall, and we have a number of military people who would like to vote and they may be out at sea,” Desjardins said.

Oak Bay is also considering the idea. What Mayor Christopher Causton would really like to see, however, is the eventual inclusion of an electronic voting option.

It’s an idea supported by Victoria’s newest councillor, Marianne Alto, as well. Online voting could produce a big increase in voter turnout overnight, she said.

A few other Canadian municipalities have already adopted online voting.

rholmen@vicnews.com

 

Has the time come for electronic voting? Markham’s mayor says yes

Markham Ont. Mayor Frank Scarpitti introduced online voting to his municipality in 2003.

Since then, three elections have been held, giving the municipality a good sense that it’s on the right track.

Voter turnout increased from 30 per cent in 1997 to almost 38 per cent by 2006.

Polling stations are still offered on election day, but the number of polling sites has been reduced, he said.

In last year’s election, 10,597 people opted to vote electronically. According to a risk-assessment study commissioned by the city, the possibility of fraud during online voting is no greater than other forms of voting, such as by mail or phone, Scarpitti said.

The biggest challenge, he said, is around communications. There has been confusion about the cut off time for voting, he explained, adding some people mistakingly believed it to be midnight.

“I’m very excited that Markham has been a leader in this. I would certainly not only encourage other municipalities, but I would encourage provincial and federal government to embark on the online voting.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The construction zone remains for now at Clover Point, but plans for a new pedestrian zone and partially closed traffic loop were approved by Victoria councillors on Thursday. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria council compromises with partial closure of Clover Point

Option preserves parking 14 spots facing ocean, creates more pedestrian space

(Black Press Media file photo)
Trees Cannabis to reignite downtown Victoria location as licensed store

The dispensary will reopen its 230 Cook St. location on Saturday

A wind warning is in effect for Greater Victoria Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Strong winds predicted for Greater Victoria

Environment Canada issues warning for Thursday afternoon

Sergeant Francis Dion with the box containing HMCS Calgary’s new secret mascot costume. (HMCSNCSMCalgary/Facebook)
Don Devenney is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Community Builder of the year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore volunteer’s efforts an exercise in adventurous pursuits

Don Devenney is the 2021 recipient of the Community Builder Award

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read