EDITORIAL

Kudos to Penticton city council for its unanimous support in approving methods that should make next year’s municipal election a fairer and more efficient process.

Last week, council officially agreed to a second polling station plus a traveling ballot box for shut-ins.

As anyone who voted — or tried to vote — in the November 2014 municipal election will recall, the day was plagued with not only long line-ups but a lot of weird things appeared to be happening. A student council election at a middle school was better orchestrated.

Most shameful was the fact Penticton didn’t offer a traveling ballot box for long-term care facilities. It’s not mandatory according to the Election Act and is considered a goodwill gesture. Mandatory or not, most municipalities offer this service. We’re glad to see that this is happening.

A second polling station was promised by council shortly after they took office in 2014. Coun. Andre Martin suggested the second location be at a school because the school board also holds its elections for trustees at the same time.

Great suggestion. SD67 secretary/treasurer Bonnie Roller Routley can look after this.

Citizens First, a community watchdog group, wants more scrutineers to assure the process itself is fair and properly run. The candidates need to take more of an onus by assuring they each have an official agent present. Only a handful of candidates had scrutineers in 2014.

The vote-counting machines also came under the microscope. Like any piece of machinery, a mistake is highly unlikely but still possible. City clerk Dana Schmidt even admitted a mistake is a miniscule possibility.

“Highly unlikely,” is not beyond a reasonable doubt.

We’ve long suggested a manual recount on the Monday following the election where each candidate may designate an agent. This would silence any doubters that the process was fair and the machines were accurate. Council more or less committed “to do something” about this, even if it was a one-thirds count to show that the voting pattern was consistent.

In federal and provincial elections the scrutineer is allowed to see the ballot, in municipal elections that’s not the case.

This needs to be done not only out of respect to the voters and our Canadian veterans but to the candidates who commit considerable time (and sometimes their own money) to participate in the process.

Voters also need to take some responsibility by realizing a lot of residents are interested in the process. This can mean voting in an advanced poll or, on election day, giving yourself lots of time to cast your vote. New voters should also register in advance.

The extras for next year’s election come with a cost. It’s estimated to be $100,000. That’s OK, nobody will ever complain about the price of an election. The freedom to vote is something many global citizens don’t have. We’re fortunate in Canada and with that freedom comes the responsibility that the process is run properly.

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