By Collin Gallant on May 3, 2017.
Medicine Hat News
The 2017 city election will feature special balloting, a process that allows homebound electors or anyone who is out of town to have their vote counted on election day.
City clerk Angela Cruickshank, who also acts as the chief returning officer during election periods, said Alberta Municipal Affairs has allowed local jurisdictions to use mail-in ballots since 2004.
Medicine Hat however, had never seen the need to add the service, though 15 residents requested special ballots during the 2013 election.
Council members approved their use for the upcoming election during Monday night’s meeting.
“It’s mainly for snowbirds,” said Cruickshank, referring to residents who may winter in warmer climates.
“There also are maybe those who are homebound and do not want a whole team of people visiting (to conduct mobile polling).”
According to information provided, Airdrie, Grand Prairie, Red Deer, St. Albert, and Strathcona County (Sherwood Park) each distributed between 26 and 100 special ballots in 2013.
That year about 2,000 ballots were distributed in each of the major cities, with more than 75 per cent returned before deadline.
Coun. Les Pearson said that measure was important and would help include those who may have mobility issues.
“Any measure that increases democracy is welcome,” said Pearson.
Special ballots can be requested by phone, email or in person from the city clerks office beginning on August 15.
They must be returned by 4:30 p.m. on election day, Monday, Oct. 16.
Cruickshank said considering expected demand, the costs would be minimal, and would be absorbed in the existing budget.
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