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Provincial government unveils safe by-election procedures

14 communities need to hold by-elections or assent votes
Voters line up at Victoria City Hall during the 2018 municipal election

The B.C. government has released guidances on how local governments can safely hold by-elections and other votes put off due to pandemic restrictions.

Municipalities including Victoria, Rossland, Burnaby, Kamloops and Lytton had to postpone votes. Currently, 14 communities need to hold by-elections or assent votes to fill vacancies on councils and boards.

After consultation with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, Elections BC, WorkSafeBC, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Local Government Management Association, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, has developed guidance materials to help local governments support safe, physically distanced voting.

The materials offer guidance for:

  • offering enhanced mail-ballot voting options;
  • offering additional advanced voting opportunities;
  • selecting and setting up a voting place for physically distant, in-person voting;
  • reducing high-touch interactions for voter registration, solemn declarations and signing voting books; and
  • managing curbside voting or special voting opportunities to improve access to voting.

At the height of the pandemic, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson deferred pending by-elections and assent votes at request of local governments and public health officials.

The ministry said governments can use the information provided, in conjunction with the Local Government Act and election procedure bylaws to establish vote processes and procedures supporting the recommended provincial health officer health and safety measures.

That includes physical distancing and measures set out by WorkSafeBC.

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