Residents of Mudge and De Courcy islands will now have the option of mailing their ballots when the municipal election takes place this fall.
Previously, residents from the Area B islands would have to boat or ferry to Nanaimo or Gabriola to cast a vote but the Regional District of Nanaimo board passed a general local election bylaw at its July regular meeting, which included provisions to designate the two as “remote” areas and thus afford those residents the extra option.
Electors who have physical disabilities, illness, or injuries that prevent them from voting, or are absent from the regional district on general or advance voting days can also take advantage of mail vote.
Howard Houle, Area B director, said the islands received the designation based on geography.
“It had been expressed that it was onerous to come from De Courcy to Nanaimo to be able to vote, or to Gabriola, and if you don’t live on De Courcy but you own property there, you can still vote in a local election but if you live in Vancouver or wherever, you have no means of doing that,” said Houle.
While new to the Nanaimo regional district, mail balloting has been offered by other local B.C. governments. The City of Nanaimo offers it for registered voters but only for in absentia votes and people with physical disabilities, illness or injury.
“I think it’s going to really open up things, particularly for Area B, with these two areas being allowed. It should mean about another 300 or 400 people being able to vote in the local elections,” Houle said.
People can also register to vote in conjunction with mail ballots, according to Jacquie Hill, regional district manager of administrative services.
“We’ve maximized the opportunity for mail ballot voting and that’s open for all of our ballots,” Hill said. “We have school districts on our ballots and also Islands Trust as well.”
Municipal elections throughout B.C. are scheduled for Nov. 15.