Steps being taken to make voting easier

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

It’s all about making it as easy as possible to vote.

To meet its goal, the M.D. of Smoky River has authorized returning officer Kelsey Fournier to set up multiple voting stations in the coming Oct. 18 municipal elections.

There was little discussion on the matter at the Feb. 10 meeting because council wants to make it as easy as possible for its residents to vote. In some wards, distances from polling stations are far away making it inconvenient to vote so a second polling station closer to home encourages voting.

Council had to pass a bylaw making the voting stations legal. No one opposed all three readings.

Special ballots considered

Due to the COVID pandemic, the Government of Alberta may allow special ballots in the next election.

The intent of the special ballots is to provide people who are unable to vote the opportunity. Reasons include absence from the area, physical disabilities or a returning officer, deputy returning officer, substitute returning officer, candidate, official agent, or scrutineer who may be located at a voting station on election day.

Currently, special ballots cannot be used because of COVID restrictions but the Alberta government is considering a change.

M.D. of Smoky River municipal intern Mitchell Visser says Municipal Affairs is looking into amending the Local Authorities Election Act to allow COVID lockdown and/or quarantine people to vote. Until then, everyone awaits.

If allowed, each voter wanting a special ballot would have to apply and follow voting rules under strict conditions.

In presenting the items for debate, Visser said he doubted many would apply.

Visser added the ballot must likely be returned by election day, which prompted some councillors to worry about “snail mail” and whether the ballot would be returned on time.

Because of the uncertainty, council decided to table the matter for more information.

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