Elections B.C. aims to reach more voters

NANAIMO – The 40th British Columbia general election is scheduled for May 14 and preparations are already underway.

The 40th British Columbia general election is scheduled for May 14 and Elections B.C. is busy updating the voters list and political parties and individuals are preparing for the campaign period.

The province is in the middle of a 60-day pre-campaign period that lasts from Feb. 15 to April 15, during which time campaign spending by political parties and standing candidates is restricted, but there are no restrictions on third party groups.

Then on April 16, the writ of election – a formal order signed by the chief electoral officer and the Lieutenant Governor calling for an election to be held – marks the start of campaign period.

“It sets the clock ticking,” said Don Main, Elections B.C. spokesman, adding there are restrictions on third party groups as well as parties and candidates during this period.

The campaign period lasts 28 days and important dates to remember up until the election are: April 23, when voter registration closes so that Elections B.C. can do a final voter’s list; April 26, when the nomination period closes; and May 8-11, when advance voting takes place.

Main said there are plenty of opportunities for residents to vote: they can do so at any advance or general voting location in the province, not just the location listed on the yellow card, and they can also vote by mail.

“B.C. has more ways to vote than anywhere else in Canada,” he said.

And Elections B.C. has started its voter registration campaign.

Main said people are receiving notices that list the people who are registered to vote at their residence and they can go online at www.elec tions.bc.ca/ovr or call 1-800-661-8683 to update their information.

Voter registration drives take place in Nanaimo in various locations over the next month or so, including shopping malls and Vancouver Island University, and Elections B.C. is doing a public awareness campaign using concepts from Emily Carr University of Art and Design students and working with Apathy is Boring, a national organization that is sending volunteers to events to get youth to register.

Officials will also go to high mobility neighbourhoods and new subdivisions and residential complexes.

“We have a very mobile province – lots of people move in the province, particularly in urban centres and they don’t think of updating their voter registration,” said Main. “We’d love to see everybody turn out.”

Just 51 per cent of eligible voters voted in the 2009 election, he added.

The final key dates in this year’s election process are May 27, when the final count takes place, June 5, when the writ of election is returned to the Chief Electoral Officer and Aug. 12 – the financing report filing deadline for candidates, political parties, constituency associations and third party advertisers.

Candidate selection underway

The list of standing candidates for Nanaimo’s three electoral areas – Nanaimo, Nanaimo-North Cowichan and Parksville-Qualicum – is still incomplete.

As of Thursday, the only standing candidate listed on the Elections B.C. website for any of the three electoral areas is Brunie Brunie, running as an independent in Nanaimo.

Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog confirmed that for the NDP, he will run again in Nanaimo, Doug Routley is the candidate for Nanaimo-Cowichan and Barry Avis is the candidate for Parksville-Qualicum.

The B.C. Liberal Party has not released a full list of candidates yet, but it was announced in January that four-time gold medal paralympian Michelle Stilwell is the candidate for Parksville-Qualicum.

The Green Party of B.C. website has listed Ian Gartshore as the candidate for Nanaimo and Mayo McDonough for Nanaimo-North Cowichan.

The B.C. Conservatives website has put forth two names for the area so far: John Sherry for Nanaimo-North Cowichan and David Coupland for Parksville-Qualicum.