City considering adding another advanced polling site

Voting booth at mall an option as staff tries to get more people to participate in local elections

Penticton voters may have more choice in advance poll locations when they go to cast their vote this fall, thanks to some changes made to the city’s elections bylaw.

“There are a couple of small amendments to the elections bylaw,” said corporate officer Dana Schmidt, who will be the city’s returning officer for the Nov. 15 election, as she introduced the changes at Penticton city council’s regular meeting on July 7.

Nomination documents, which are already available for public inspection, will also be made available online, so taxpayers don’t have to go to city hall to view them. The amended bylaw also allows them to run the mailed-in ballots through the machine prior to the 8 p.m. voting cutoff on the day of the election, which Schmidt said “speeds up the process at the end of the election day.”

The most visible change, however, will be the location of the advance polls.

“This amendment allows for us to name sites other than City Hall for advance polls, so we may be able to have one poll down on the south end of town,” said Schmidt. “We already have two advance polls, but currently we run both of them in City Hall.”

Coun. Helena Konanz wondered if one of the advance polls could be run at the mall.

“I know they are doing that in Kelowna right now, and I think that would be a great way to attract more people to vote,” said Konanz.

Schmidt replied that had been discussed at the staff level, but more work would need to be done to see what sort of arrangement could be made.

The amendments also make a small change in wording for the number of advance polls. Previously, the elections bylaw specified two days of advance polling, which has now been reworded to read “at least two.”

Schmidt said staff isn’t recommending an extra day of advance polls, but the new wording allows for future flexibility. Vancouver, for example, is planning to hold eight days of advance polls, at eight locations throughout that city.

These changes to local election regulations come on top of changes the province made earlier this year, extending the term of office for mayors and all elected officials serving municipalities, regional districts, parks boards and school boards from three years to four. Beginning in 2018, the election date will also shift from November to the third Saturday in October.