Rossland city council has decided not to move forward with mail ballot voting in the community.
Mayor Kathy Moore said one reason council opted not to proceed was because most people aren’t allowed to cast their ballot by mail under B.C.’s Local Government Act.
According to an online report submitted by city executive assistant Alison Worsfold, the act only lets you vote by mail during a municipal election if you have a physical disability, illness or injury or if you’re temporarily away from home.
“We’re trying to think of different ways to get people engaged and get everyone to come out to vote,” said Moore. “However, this staff report showed council that under the legislation that currently exists, that definitely wasn’t going to be the case.”
The report showed that mail ballot voting hadn’t increased voter turnout in most B.C. communities where it’s been implemented.
In Trail, the report said only 2.4 per cent of people mailed their ballot in during the 2014 and 2018 general local election.
The report said Victoria had less than one per cent of people mail their ballot in during the 2018 general local election.
Despite the obstacles, Moore said she still hopes to implement more voting options for Rosslanders.
“We’re hoping to send a resolution to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities next year, asking them to take a look at the voting act and maybe modernize it,” said Moore.
“While one of our councillors pointed out that mail ballot voting isn’t very modern, we could look electronic or other ways of voting.”
Electronic or mail ballot voting could also increase voter turnout in elections during health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, Moore suggested.
The document estimated mail ballot voting would increase election costs for the city by up to $1,500.