Open letter responding to recent remarks made by Whitehorse’s chief administrative officer comparing the census attached to the voter enumeration bylaw to a referendum question:
Adding questions about the specifics of Whitehorse households to the voter registration exercise is, in no way, like “tacking” a referendum question onto a ballot. It’s not an intrusion to add an issue to vote on to a ballot; that’s consistent with the purpose of holding a public vote.
The purpose for the vestigial census, survey, what-have-you becomes more perplexing and less compelling with every new official comment on the matter.
But it’s been clear from the outset that it has nothing to do with voting.
A citizen-initiated referendum question undergoes a rigorous public examination before it’s even put on a ballot, since the consent of 2,000 eligible voters is required to get it that far.
the seven members of city council folded the census questions into the enumeration bylaw by giving it three readings within a 24-hour period, with not more than 15 minutes of discussion in front of the public.
Media coverage, public relations and official advertising have been focused on the survey (with city officials displaying a sketchy grasp of confidentiality issues along the way).
If I hadn’t yet taken part in a municipal election, I still wouldn’t know from any of that information if I was eligible to vote.
I might be wondering, though, what kind of gear is needed to negotiate the “confusing” and “inconvenient” terrain of the polling station on election day.
Surely we can all agree that neither elected officials nor their administrative staff should be mired in the mechanics of the electoral process.
In fact, asking voters whether they support the appointment of an independent electoral officer to supervise municipal elections and other public votes would be an excellent question to put to a referendum.