The Regional District of Nanaimo is going to look into mail ballot voting but the option won’t be available for this years local election.
Bob Rogers who is running for the RDN seat in electoral Area E told board members on October 25 that he is concerned that the RDN board has not implemented mail ballot voting procedures that would ensure an equal opportunity to vote for RDN electors.
“Mail ballot voting provides those electors unable to attend a special advance or general voting opportunity the ability to vote in a general local election,” said Rogers.
The candidate who is running for the Nanoose Bay directors seat said there are many people in these parts who are seasonal residents and some of them, particularly snowbirds who head south for the winter will be away on election day November 19.
He stated that mail ballot voting would allow non-resident electors, seasonal residents, electors in geographically remote locations and electors whose mobility or health is compromised an opportunity to cast their ballot in the election.
“I believe that in an effort to broaden elector participation, the RDN board should grab hold of this authority to enhance the ability of every elector who legitimately meets the mail ballot criteria the chance to cast his or her ballot.”
Board Chairman Joe Stanhope said they looked at mail ballot voting back in 2005 and considered amending the election bylaw for provisions of a mail in ballot but it never moved forward.
He added that they do provide curbside voting for people with physical disabilities so they don’t have to get out of their vehicle in order to cast their ballot.
He said residents of the regional district who have mobility issues just need to notify electoral officials as to when they will be arriving at their polling station to vote and an election officer will bring the ballot to them.
He said the RDN will take another look at the issue, but added it is too late to change balloting procedures for the 2011 RDN elections.
Mail ballot voting is provided in Nanaimo, Lantzville and Qualicum Beach and the mayor of Qualicum Beach said that in the last municipal election some 200 people cast their vote with a mail-in ballot.
Teunis Westbroek admitted however that the provision does create more work for staff and results in an added cost to the election process.