Logistical and procedural changes ahead of Greenwood’s October byelection may set the tone for future polls, the city’s election planner told the Gazette Wednesday, Sept. 9.
City staff made the changes to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19.
“It’s not always gloom and doom,” said Chief Election Officer, Wendy Higashi, who went on to suggest that the pandemic has presented new and possibly better opportunities for residents to vote.
Greendwood voters will cast their ballots at the city’s McArthur Centre, where she said, “people can come in one door and go out another” without crossing paths.
Higashi added that residents can also mail-in their votes, providing that they arrange with the city to have their names added to its list of individually prepared ballots.
Higashi said advanced polls will be held at MacArthur Centre on Sept. 30 to reduce congestion on election day, Oct. 10.
“If you see an opening [at the community hall], please come,” she said.
Voters can verbally confirm their identities at the polls, a change Higashi hoped will outlast the pandemic.
Technically, Greenwood city council passed a bylaw ending mail-in voting after the last general election in October 2018. Only 17 voters had requested mail-in ballots, while only three actually mailed their votes in, according to Higashi.
Mail-in voting is being allowed in next month’s byelection after council requested a special order from the provincial minister in charge of municipal elections.
Higashi said the bylaw is still on the books, but added that council may revisit the issue after next month’s byelection.
Higashi speculated that October’s contest may see higher than normal voter participation, because Greenwood residents likely won’t be vacationing outside the city on account of the pandemic.
Around 480 residents voted in the last general election, she said.
Nominations closed Friday, Sept. 4, for the seats left by outgoing mayor, Ed Smith, and outgoing councillor, Gerry Shaw, who vacated his council spot to run for the city’s top job.
Also running for mayor are Carolina Hopkins and Barry Noll.
Charlene Izuka, Mark Seymour, and Henrik Van Wyk are vying for Shaw’s council seat.