Whitehorse city councillors are debating whether to allow proxy voting for the next election, although the Municipal Act does not currently provide for proxy voting in municipal elections. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Proxy voting questioned at Whitehorse council meeting

‘It’s actually been removed from the Elections Act at a territorial level’

Proxy voting could be problematic voting — that was the concern raised by Coun. Sampson Hartland during a standing committees meeting on May 14.

“Why are we considering to allow proxy voting in this election when in the last territorial election, that was the last time you could do proxy voting and it’s actually been removed from the Elections Act at a territorial level, so they won’t be doing proxy voting in the next election?” Hartland said.

The Municipal Act does not currently provide for proxy voting in municipal elections.

On May 14 Norma Felker, assistant city clerk with the city of Whitehorse, introduced a bylaw to establish procedures for the municipal election. This included a proposition that “persons exercising a proxy will be required to vote by special ballot.”

Felker said part of the justification for proxy voting is to accommodate people in work camps who may not be able to make it to one of the approximately 12 polling stations that will be set up for the fall election.

“It’s very different for people in work camps or people who have their holidays planned so the proxy voting gives them an opportunity to make sure they still can exercise their franchise,” she said.

Hartland pointed to advance polls, wondering why that option wasn’t sufficient.

“My concern obviously is, you know, assigning a vote to somebody else is a bit problematic for me,” he said. “I think there’s an opportunity for, you know, misuse of that and I think that’s why you see some jurisdictions moving away from the ability to proxy vote and I would like us to strongly consider doing away with proxy voting moving forward but can appreciate that this is probably where we’re at at this point in time but not without some reservations on my part.”

In addition to proxy voting, the bylaw under consideration addresses time, date, place and submission of nominations, a board of revision and the hours the board will sit, honoraria paid to elected officials and more.

During the meeting, Coun. Rob Fendrick also encouraged residents to consider running in the upcoming election. He directed potential candidates’ attention to a freshly-drafted 32-page handbook titled The Joy of Governing.

The handbook can be found on the website for the Association of Yukon Communities at www.ayc-yk.ca.

The election procedures bylaw will come forward for a vote on May 21.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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