Parksville voters will not have the option to mail in a ballot for this fall’s municipal election.
Council defeated a motion, initiated by city staff, to prepare an amendment to the city’s election procedures bylaw to make mail ballot voting an option for the Oct. 15 election.
Last June the province expanded mail ballot availability to all eligible electors, where authorized by bylaw. Previously it was only available to people with a physical disability, illness or injury that affected their ability to vote and people who expected to be absent from the municipality on general voting day and during all advance voting opportunities.
Several councillors expressed concern about the mail-ins delaying the final results and the possibility of fraud.
“This creates a whole new can of worms when we start to have mail-in ballots,” said Coun. Al Greir. “There’s absolutely no way in a democracy that you can run a good democracy by mailing out floods of ballots and not knowing where they all went and how many are coming back that are marked properly and so on.”
Staff did not have a final cost tallied, but Amanda Weeks, chief elections officer, estimated the expense for materials, such as envelopes and postage, would be under $5,000. Special voting opportunities exist at several Parksville seniors facilities, according to Weeks.
The motion was defeated, with only Coun. Teresa Patterson voting in favour of permitting the mail-in ballots.
“I think this is definitely the way of the future,” said Patterson. “We still live in a very senior-orientated community and that being said, there are still people that are very shy to venture out and about in areas that have a lot of people in attendance.”
There are two days of advance voting at what will become the Parksville Child and Family Centre (132 Jensen Avenue East) on Oct. 5 and Oct. 12. Voters able to travel to a voting place, but who have difficulty getting into the building have the option of curb side voting, where election officials will bring out a ballot. General Voting Day is Oct. 15 at 132 Jensen Avenue East and Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church (550 Pym St.).
Changes to the election bylaws must be adopted by July 4 to be in effect for the fall election, according to Weeks.