Reyna Seabrook, Lake Country chief election officer, looks over documents during the November civic election.

Election process reviewed

The District of Lake Country will look to overhaul its municipal election process

The District of Lake Country will look to overhaul its municipal election process over the next four years in an attempt to eliminate long wait times some voters suffered through in the November civic election.

A report to council pointed out several reasons there were some log jams and long lines in this year’s election, which cost the district $16,473 to hold.

And it is Lake Country’s ward system — the only ward system in B.C. — that was one of the things that slowed things down at the time of registration.

“In order to ensure that an absolutely accurate election is conducted it is critical that each individual elector’s ward is verified,” said Reyna Seabrook, chief election officer in the report.

“The ward system in Lake Country will always necessitate a slightly longer registration process than in other municipalities.”

To try and eliminate some of the issues with this year’s election Seabrook recommended an overhaul of the election process in Lake Country, with several initiatives aimed at increasing the ease of which people can vote including:

n Additional advance voting opportunities

n Polling stations or advance voting in each ward

n Doubling or tripling the number of election officials (regardless of number of polling stations)

• Providing a more efficient registration and ward verification process to reduce wait times.

Along with the ward system, which required four different ballot styles to be produced, another reason for long delays was the registration process and the technology used to get voters through the voting station at George Elliot Secondary. Residents’ addresses were put into the district’s Geographical Information System (GIS) to determine the ward. The machine then produced a registration form, eliminating the need for officials to write out each person’s information at the time of registration. It was expected to speed up the process but failed.

“Unfortunately when the process was put into place at the 2014 election, it resulted in a significant increase in wait times,” wrote Seabrook.

“Several factors added to the increased registration time including the time required to manage and enter the information in the Microsoft Word document, election official computer skills and the GIS system process times.”

Seabrook recommended that an alternate registration process be implemented for the 2018 election.

As far as voting directly in the wards, a sentiment expressed by many in the wake of the election which saw just 24 per cent voter turnout in Lake Country, Seabrook recommended the district look at the feasibility of having polling stations in the wards for 2018 either on election day or in advance polls or both.

The district has only had polling stations in the wards once in nine municipal votes held since incorporation (elections or by-elections) and that was in 1996 while provincial and federal elections do provide polling in the wards.

Seabrook said wait times would be significantly reduced with polling stations in the wards but said there would be increased costs including renting community halls additional election officials, rental of additional voting machines, additional advertising.

“There are things we will be looking at in the 2018 election and they may change things for the better, we will certainly be looking at doing that.”

 

Vernon Morning Star

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