By Mark Squibb | July 22, 2021
The Town of Bay Roberts will not be offering a vote by mail option in the upcoming election, and council and staff say that provincial legislation is to blame.
The Town had voted in June to offer voting by mail, but Town Clerk Christine Bradbury said there were a number of logistical factors at play that made the option unworkable.
For one, with the vote by mail system, there would have to be six nomination days, not just one.
Bradbury also said that there would have to be regulations that would have to be voted on by council, which would then in turn have to be submitted to the provincial government for approval.
“There were a lot of changes that needed to be done in order to proceed, and I didn’t want to take the chance on it not working out properly to be honest,” said Bradbury.
The vote by mail process would have also created a whole new set of problems come voting day, said Bradbury.
“If you had a vote by mail, you would be able to submit up until 8 p.m. that night. Well, once that vote came in, that had to be cross referenced with the sheets to make sure that person hadn’t voted twice. They could have come in for the in-person voting. So, there would have been a delay in how the votes came out.”
According to Bradbury, Bay Roberts was not the only town to back out of the vote by mail.
“There were 50 municipalities that requested approval from the minister, and to date, there are only 17 proceeding,” she said.
“The bottom line is the provincial government needs better legislation through the Election Act to make this work,” agreed Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman.
Mayor Philip Wood expressed his disappointment with the inability to move ahead with the vote by mail option.
“I am disappointed,” said Wood. “I thought that voting by mail would be beneficial to the town for two reasons; one, we still don’t know where COVID-19 is going or coming, or whatever, and it would have given us an extra safety valve so to speak, and the second reason I thought a mail in ballot would have been a benefit to us is that it would increase participation. Right now, municipal elections are generally around the 50 percent mark. And it’s like any election, the more people participating, it makes for a much stronger democracy.”
Council passed a motion to rescind the motion of June 15 that would allow for voting by mail, as well as passed a new motion to proceed with in person only.
Council also voted to accept dates for both the Nomination Date (Thursday, September 2) and not one but two Advanced Poll Days (Friday, September 17, and Friday, September 25.)
The election will be held on Tuesday, September 28.