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Richmond granted Ministerial Order for upcoming by-election

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 10:23 PDT, Tue April 13, 2021

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

The City of Richmond has received approval to put in place special voting provisions for its upcoming By-Election for a city councillor, which will take place on Saturday, May 29.

These provisions, from a Ministerial Order that was granted by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing under Section 167 of the Local Government Act, will ensure a legislatively compliant by-election while also incorporating public health measures to provide a safe experience for voters, candidates, candidate representatives and election staff, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Provisions included in the Ministerial Order are:

1. Voting by mail opportunity for all eligible voters

Current legislation establishes that mail ballots are only an option for persons who have a disability, physical illness or injury, or who will be absent for all voting opportunities.

2. Using a secrecy sleeve in mail ballot applications instead of secrecy envelope

The secrecy sleeve will still maintain the secrecy of the ballot but will enable staff to process the ballot faster.

3. Chief Election Officer establishing processes and time limits for issuing and receiving voting by mail applications and mail-in ballot packages

The overall intention is for election officials to have as much flexibility as possible to ensure as many mail ballot packages are received by the close of General Voting Day. 

4. Processing mail ballots before the close of general voting

The current bylaw establishes that mail ballots can only be opened and processed at the close of voting on General Voting Day (8 p.m.). With the projected number of approximately 7,300 mail ballots, a special provision will enable election staff to start processing mail ballots earlier to ensure the time of issuing the unofficial results will not be significantly impacted.

5. In-person oral voter declarations in place of written declarations

In place of the required written declarations, electors can provide oral declarations (i.e. reading the declaration out loud before an election official) prior to being issued a ballot.

6. Sole discretion to the Chief Election Officer for special voting opportunities

Due to the pandemic, special voting opportunities for care home residents will not be an option as it has been in past elections. Instead, the Elections Office will be providing assistance to care home residents so they can vote by mail.

The candidate nomination period for Richmond’s by-election is open until 4 p.m. on Friday, April 23. For more information, please visit www.richmond.ca/elections.

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