Abbotsford residents may be able to ‘vote anywhere’ in 2022

Staff suggest more advance voting opportunities and polling stations following News article

Making it easier to vote in the next municipal election will cost some money, but can be done without too much trouble, Abbotsford city staff told council Monday.

Staff laid out a range of ways voting could be easier in 2022, from offering more polling stations and advance voting opportunities, to returning to a “vote anywhere” model that wouldn’t require residents to go to a designated polling place. The suggestions were made at a committee of the whole meeting where council makes no significant decisions but can discuss issues in greater depth.

The suggested improvements follow a News article in December that revealed that Abbotsford residents had fewer and more-restrictive voting opportunities than those in most other mid-sized B.C. cities – although Abbotsford didn’t have markedly worse voter turnout than those other municipalities.

At the time, Mayor Henry Braun said the city should look at its voting provisions, saying that a diminishing number of poll stations over recent elections seemed “counter-intuitive” to the goal of increasing turnout.

RELATED: Abbotsford lags behind when it comes to voting opportunities

RELATED: Abbotsford election turnout in line with past votes

Monday’s staff report shows that the number of voting places dropped from 22 to 16 between 2008 and 2018.

“These reductions were made largely to create efficiencies,” staff wrote. As technology allowed more staff to help more voters, small voter locations nearby one another were merged, staff wrote.

Staff noted that the city could boost the number of voting locations in the future. Staff floated the idea of a new voting place at the University of the Fraser Valley to encourage more young people to cast a ballot. Another west Abbotsford voting location was also suggested, as was the possibility of a location in a mall or storefront “in an attempt to make voting easily accessible to where the people are.”

Staffing and operating an average-sized voting place costs about $9,000.

The city has also provided just two advance voting opportunities, the minimum number allowed under provincial law. That’s despite an increasing number of people voting early. Staff say providing more advance voting chances in four years will cost about $12,000 for each location.

Unlike most other municipalities, Abbotsford has also used a system whereby voters are directed to designated polling stations on election day. The system has been in place since 2008, and was implemented, in part, to decrease the risk that some voters could cast a ballot at multiple polling stations.

Now that the city is using an electronic system that crosses voters off a single, centralized list, staff now say that the city could return to a “vote anywhere” system without risk. Doing so, staff say, “will help make voting easier for voters; and will avoid difficult situations election workers can be placed in when people arrive at their voting place who have been assigned to a different voting place.”

Two other options meant to make voting easier wouldn’t cost the city much, staff say.

Allowing mail-in voting would cost $2,000, along with some staff time, while offering free transit services would probably see the city miss out on around $2,800 in revenue.

Staff also proposed nearly doubling the election awareness campaign to around $12,000 to inform more people about the upcoming vote.

They also suggest hiring a full-time, six-month staffer to provide support in the lead-up to the election. That would cost about $35,000.

  The proposals will resurface at a future meeting, at which point mayor and council can tell staff how, exactly, they should proceed.

Just Posted

Abbotsford students ‘elect’ NDP’s Sauve

Student Vote Canada 2019 sees 27 local elementary, middle and high schools participate

Abbotsford football teams all post wins

Panthers, Hawks and Timberwolves earn crucial victories as playoffs loom

VIDEO: PBR Canada returns to Abbotsford

Alberta’s Garrett Green takes home first place at annual event

Ground-breaking ceremony at site of new Ledgeview Golf Course clubhouse in Abbotsford

Construction slated to start in November with total budget of $6.8 million

Abbotsford Rotary Club’s Halloween Bash raises funds for 3 charities

Event takes place Friday, Oct. 25 at Quality Hotel and Conference Centre

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Police watchdog seeking ‘key witness’ in Taser incident along Vancouver seawall

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. looking for woman who was sitting nearby with dog

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Most Read