Qualicum Beach council gave third reading for an amendment to the town’s election procedures bylaw that will provide a new policy on tie votes, as well as allow mail-in ballots in the Oct. 15 municipal elections.
If preliminary results show two or more candidates have an equal number of valid votes, the chief election officer may apply for a judicial recount. If it fails to declare a winner, the results would be determined either by runoff election or by lot, which will be a new section in the amended bylaw once adopted by council.
Coun. Anne Skipsey had asked staff for information requiring manual count, which she feels can provide more information than just recounting the ballots via machine.
“If we’re going to do the same kind of recounts over, then I would probably vote instead to… I would prefer a runoff versus determination by lot,” said Skipsey.
Deputy corporate administrator Weslie Gould said they have not had any issues with any ballots in past elections being rejected and giving them back to the elector to correct their intent.
“Any sort of issues with reading the machine versus reading it with eyes would be the same outcome,” said Gould.
Skipsey, who has worked as an election officer in the past, indicated the mail-in ballots, included in the proposed amendment to the town’s election procdures bylaw, do not provide an opportunity for the voter to correct their votes if they’ve indavertently marked it wrong.
Coun. Teunis Westbroek agreed with Skipsey as he would prefer not to apply the lot system as the first option.
“I think a runoff would be better,” said Westbroek. “We’ve had that. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does, it draws attention to what the candidates are really saying and a little more scrutiny.”
The proposed amended election procedures bylaw is being recommended for adoption at the next council meeting to make sure it’s in place before the Oct. 15 election.