Election 101: Mail Ballot Voting
By: Lonny Miller, Chief Elections Officer, RMOW
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has received a number of inquiries from people interested in mail ballot voting for the November 19, 2011 General Local Election in Whistler.
The Local Government Act (the Act), section 100, sets out requirements for mail ballot voting. On July 5, 2011 Council adopted the “Mail Ballot Authorization and Procedure Bylaw No. 1975, 2011”, which authorized the opportunity.
A little history
Mail ballot voting was legislated by the Province of B.C. in time for the last election and was passed through the Provincial Legislature on March 31, 2008.
Out of the 189 local governments in B.C., 37 instituted mail ballot voting in 2008. Since the last election, RMOW staff has consulted with these B.C. municipalities to discuss the costs, pros and cons of implementing it.
Although, there will be increased costs associated with mail ballot voting, including staff time, printing and mailing costs, the RMOW believes that the benefits of the additional voting opportunity for its electors will outweigh the additional costs.
Mail ballot voting will also eliminate the need for a West Vancouver polling station; offsetting some of the new associated costs.
Ultimately, the possibility of increasing voter turnout is the main benefit of mail ballot voting.
Who can vote by mail ballot?
Mail ballot voting is available to:
- Electors with physical disability, illness or injury that affects their ability to vote at an advance voting opportunity or on general voting day; or
- Electors who expect to be absent from the municipality during advance voting opportunities (November 9 and 12, 2011) and on general voting day.
To vote by mail ballot, you must also:
- Be either a resident or non-resident property elector as legislated in sections 50 and 51 of the Local Government Act;
- Be 18 years or older;
- Be a Canadian citizen;
- Be a resident of British Columbia for at least six months before voting day; and
- Be a resident of the RMOW or a registered owner of real property in the municipality for at least 30 days before voting day.
Property owners whose properties are registered under a corporation are not entitled to vote.
Non-resident property owners can only vote under one real property and in the case where there are multiple owners on title, only one owner (with the permission of the majority of the property owners) is entitled to vote.
What is the procedure for mail ballot voting?
- Download a form (Application to Vote by Mail Ballot) at www.whistler.ca or pick up a paper copy at municipal hall, 4325 Blackcomb Way, Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Forms will be available September 9 to November 17, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.
- Qualified electors must complete an application form and return it to the Legislative Services department at municipal hall.
- Mail ballot packages will be mailed to qualified electors starting on November 3 until 4:00 p.m. on November 17.
- Qualified electors must follow the instructions provided with each mail ballot package. If any of the requirements are not met, a vote by mail ballot cannot be counted.
- Qualified voters must ensure that their completed mail ballot is returned to municipal hall by 4:30 p.m. on November 18 or to the Whistler Conference Centre, Elections Room no later than 8:00 p.m. on General Voting Day, on November 19, 2011. It is the responsibility of the elector to ensure that their ballot is returned before 8:00 p.m. on November 19, 2011.
For more information on mail ballot voting, contact email@example.com or call 604-935-8112.