Governance undermined after many mail-in by-election votes left uncounted
Grumpy Taxpayer$ calls on the province to amend legislation to establish an earlier nomination period that would enable mail election and by-election ballots to be made available earlier.
Of the 12,323 taxpayers that voted in the Victoria by-election in November 2020, another 1,030 voters were disenfranchised because their mail-in ballot arrived too late. Fortunately, in this instance the votes uncounted would not have changed the results of the by-election.
That’s according to the staff report 2020By-Election – Lessons Learned, to be tabled for consideration at city council Feb. 18. It recommends major changes and a standardized approach to conducting future elections and by-elections.
“One vote unaccounted is one too many for this democratic right,” says John Treleaven, chair of Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria.
“It’s shocking that the province is well aware of the issue of mail-in ballot timing causing issues – yet has done nothing about it.”
Elections BC reported there was a similar experience with their mail-in process during the provincial election in October 2020. Almost 725,000 voters requested vote-by-mail packages, but only 596,287 voters returned their package by the close of voting. The chief electoral officer is preparing a report on the election expected this year.
As early as 2014, Victoria council passed a motion requesting the province amend legislation to establish an earlier nomination period that would enable mail ballots to be made available earlier.
Since then, according to the city staff report,”the province did not and has not made any changes to provide more time for votes by mail for a local election process.”
Consequently, Grumpy Taxpayer$ urges the city to renew their worthwhile initiative of 2014 to call on the province to amend legislation without delay, say Treleaven.
The public’s belief in the democratic process is severely undermined when they make the effort to vote and it’s not even counted, says Treleaven. It also nullifies all the various efforts to engage the public in their community and get them more involved.
2020 By-Election – Lessons Learned, City of Victoria, City of Victoria Staff Report, Jan. 27, 2021.
Victoria’s top election official defends mail-in ballot process, Times Colonist, Nov. 18, 2020.
Local Government By-election, Government of B.C., 2021.