Sunday October 26, 2014

City preparing for October election

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Yorkton Council approved a Bylaw at its regular meeting Monday setting the parameters for this fall’s municipal election in the city.

City Clerk Bonnie Schenher explained the Local Government Election Act sets out that “City Council must make decisions with regards to certain matters related to the holding of a municipal election …

“Most matters relating to the Election process are established through legislation and delegated to the Returning Officer.”

Schenher noted, “In the City of Yorkton, the City Clerk has always been the Returning Office for general elections,” adding that was the recommendation for the 2012 election.

After consultation with the Good Spirit School Division No. 204 and Christ the Teacher Separate School Division No. 212 the city will once again be conducting the School Board Elections for the City at Large Board Members for both of the school divisions, said Schenher.

“The benefit to providing this service is that it provides continuity and clarity to the voters,” she said.

“We also will be able to cost share with the School Divisions for conducting the Municipal and School Board elections jointly.”

Schenher said Yorkton will again use electronic vote counting equipment.

“As Council is aware we own two Accu-Vote machines and have a partnership to receive two more for use during an election. We have been using this process since 1997,” she said.

“Our Accu-Vote machines have been proven to be totally reliable over many years of elections. We have recently had them serviced and upgraded and we will be replacing the batteries in all memory cards prior to the election.”

On election day there will be three polling areas; The Gallagher Centre – Flexi-Hall, The Gloria Hayden Community Centre, and Yorkdale Central School – Student Centre.

In addition, there will be three Advance Polls, all being held in the Ravine Room at the Gallagher Centre. They will take place Thursday, Oct. 11 and Thursday, Oct. 18, from 12:00 noon until 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 20, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

“A Mobile Poll [will be available] which allows for requests to attend at a residence of an elector who because of physical disability or limited mobility is unable to attend at an established polling place to vote,” added Schenher. “We will once again be holding Special Polls on election Day to accommodate electors who reside at locations such as the Yorkton & District Nursing Home, Queen Elizabeth Court and Independent Manor.”

Council also approved a recommendation that its Administration prepare a bylaw to allow mail-in ballots.

As it stands, five other cities have opted to allow mail-in ballots in this, the first election they are allowed in a municipal election, said Schenher.

“We do not anticipate that there will be a huge request for mail-in ballots, but it would provide another opportunity for voting, in addition to the Advance Polls. If Council would like us to implement this process, we will bring back a bylaw to a future meeting for Council’s consideration,” she said.

This is also the first year voters will require identification.

Photo ID is your best choice, as you will only require one original piece of identification if it has your photo, name and address and it is issued by a federal, provincial or municipal government. Most people will use their driver’s license, explained Schenher.

Council also opted not to require criminal record checks for candidates, now allowed under the provincial Act.

Schenher said Administration is not aware of any Saskatchewan city requiring the checks.

“We are not sure what benefit this information would bring to the election process. Any criminal record check states that the applicant may or may not have a criminal record and could only be confirmed by finger prints,” she said.

In terms of running for Council, nominations will open Aug. 27 and close Sept. 19.

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