Improvement needed for local elections in Penticton and across B.C

Dear Editor:

Civic governments have the responsibility to oversee civic elections through the Municipal Charter. Elections BC has jurisdiction over financing. That should be expanded to ensure open, fair and honest elections. There are too many unanswered questions about voters’ lists; ballots being put through twice; inadequate scrutineering held only at the discretion of candidates; and the security of the vote with malfunctioning counting machines.

During the advance poll in Penticton’s 2014 municipal election the voting machines stopped working and had to be reset. According to the civil servant running the election; the voters that had previously voted had their ballots run through again during a quiet time at the polls that day.

There is no security of the ballot box.

Many voters are skeptical of the election results: One candidate claimed he had five cars driving people to the poll on Election Day. These cars drove the same people three and four times to the polls. Discouraged by over long line-ups they never got to vote.

Conspiracy theories; may be right or wrong; regardless the election system needs to be changed for municipal elections. A review of the municipal election act should include: Removing civil servants from the election; Numbered ballots; methods of securing the voting machinery and memory cards ensuring tamper proofing; methods to secure the ballot boxes.

It should include a method of ensuring the integrity of the vote once voters have selected their candidates. Hard copies of voters’ registration lists should be made available to all scrutineers. Scrutineers should come from the community at large; be experienced in provincial and federal elections, etc. Numbers of polls open should be mandated by law according to the population and regulations concerning the senior’s homes ensuring the right to vote for those that still want the privilege. This last election there was no travelling ballot boxes in the many senior homes in Penticton.

New registrations should be handled separately during an election to ensure they do not hold up the registered voters from voting and their vote should be held in abeyance until their credentials can be verified.

Voter skepticism of a rigged election combined with voter suppression whether intended or not; leaves Penticton City Council’s present mandate dubious.

I urge everyone to watch these two videos then ask your MLA to bring municipal elections under the Elections Act the same as provincial and federal elections.

Elvena Slump

Penticton

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