Saturday, March 23, 2013

Elections in BC, a Proposed Change

All the elections run in BC should be under the auspices of Elections BC and we should be on a three cycle. This means the provincial election, all local government elections, school board elections, party leadership elections and party nominations at the provincial and local level, and all referendums.

At the moment all the local governments and school boards in BC operate their own elections.  None of them have capacity to have fulltime staff worry about elections and make it the task of other staff every three years when the election rolls around.   It also means that there is always a perceived conflict of interest between the municipal staff and the candidates - the staff are not independent of council.  Elections BC is an independent office of the Legislature.

As an example of the problem, we have no consistency in how votes are tallied by local governments - some are by hand but many of they use machines to count the vote.

Elections BC has the staff and systems available to oversee all the elections.   It would also mean that Elections BC could afford to have more people on staff on a consistent basis which would lead to better qualified people working on all of the elections.

For the three year cycle, I think it would be ideal for elections to be at the end of August.

  • Year one - Provincial Election
  • Year two - local government elections
  • Year three - school board elections

The 1956, 1960, 1963, 1966, 1969 and 1972 BC elections all took place at the end of the summer which means it has been done in BC and has worked.

The end of August means the campaign period is during the summer when the weather is better and the days are longer.  It is also during a time when government currently do very little of their business.   Kids are out of school so the buildings are available for polling stations and all candidate meetings.    It is an easier time of year for people to take holidays and volunteer on election campaigns.

If we have a clear schedule all levels of governments could plan for by-elections and referendums to coincide with elections that are going to happen anyway.

I think the three year time frame for elections is better than four years because on the provincial level the MLAs would have to consider elections a bit more often.

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