Following a surge in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears mail-in voting is here to stay.
On Tuesday (Match 8) Kamloops council introduced and read for the first three times a bylaw that will allow all voters to use mail-in ballots in local elections, with the next one set for Oct. 15.
City CAO David Trawin told KTW the bylaw follows a change from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to the Local Government Act, which expanded eligibility for mail-in voting.
Mail-in voting had in the past been reserved for the ill and those who were away from the community on general voting day.
A report from the city’s chief election officer to council notes that: “Following temporary adaptation made to provincial legislation through various ministerial orders from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs identified that there was prudence in opening mail ballot voting opportunities to all electors.”
Trawin told KTW that his gut feeling is mail-in voting will be allowed to continue en masse in the future.
“You’re always trying to get better and better numbers voting,” Trawin said.
Municipal elections in Kamloops have the lowest voter turnout among the various levels of elections, with the average turnout in recent elections being about 30 per cent.
Kamloops voters went to the polls twice during the COVID-19 pandemic, first in October 2020 and again in September 2021. In the Sept. 20, 2021, federal election, Elections Canada received a record number of mail-in ballot requests — 1.2 million. In the provincial election, held on Oct. 24, 2020, hundreds of thousands of British Columbians voted by mail.