No opportunity for write-in ballots for this year’s election in New West

If the City of New Westminster wants to expand voting opportunities in the civic election that’s up to city council – but it won’t happen in time for this year’s civic election.

Longtime New Westminster residents Keith Gagne and Diana Carr recently voiced concerns that they would be out of town for most of October, meaning they won’t be able to cast votes in the Oct. 20 election or in the three advance voting days on Oct. 10, 13 and 17. While some municipalities allow for write-in ballots, that’s not currently available in New Westminster.

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Jacque Killawee, the city’s chief election officer, said there’s nothing the city can do to provide the ability to cast write-in ballots for this year’s civic election.

“For the next election, the city could change a bylaw to allow it, and some cities do allow it,” she said. “For this election, no.”

According to Killawee, bylaws concerning this year’s civic election had to be adopted by B.C. municipalities by July 9, 2018.

“The rules of the game are set well before the election,” she said. “You have to run the election by those rules.”

In order to provide the ability for local voters to cast votes via write-in ballots, city bylaws would have to be updated prior to the next election.

“It is totally up to council,” Killawee said. “It is council direction.”

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