Tweaked voting process earns approval

Concerns about accountability at the ballot box seem to have been alleviated.

Concerns about accountability at the ballot box seem to have been alleviated.

For this year’s municipal election, the District of Sicamous has made a few changes to the voting process that initially had volunteer election officials apprehensive. Sicamous chief election officer Joni L’Heureux says the voter registration book used by officials in the past has been replaced with individual sheets. Instead of officials having to record voters’ pertinent information, voters themselves can fill out the sheets as they wait in line, after which the sheets are collected and put into a book.

L’Heureux says officials still have to make sure people are eligible to vote.

Another change – and concern – is the ballot. In years past, officials would hand out ballots with a correlating numbered stub portion they would keep. This year, while the ballots are still numbered, there’s no stub.

We have talked to (the officials) and made a few adjustments to make the more comfortable with it,” said L’Heureux, explaining officials now sign for and receive one book of 50 ballots at a time.

“Once they’ve completed their book of 50 ballots, they’re handing that back in with 50 registration sheets, so there is still ballot accounting being done,” said  L’Heureux. “The biggest difference is they don’t have a ballot box on their table. We have a central ballot box for people to drop their ballots into after they’ve cast their vote. And then everybody at the end of the night will be counting those.”

At the advanced poll, L’Heureux said her volunteers wound up liking the new system a lot.

“By the end of the day, they love it,” said L’Heureux. “They can see where they do still have to account for their ballots. They can’t just go missing and nobody cares, right.”

Where there was cause for tension at the busy advanced poll was when Alberta residents with Sicamous properties attempted to vote. L’Heureux notes it is provincial law that determines who can vote. To be eligible, one must be a Canadian citizen, of 18 years or older (as of Nov. 15), a resident of B.C. for at least six months prior to registering to vote, and a resident of Sicamous at least 30 days prior to registering.

Election day is Saturday, Nov. 15. Voting takes place at the municipal hall in council chambers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.