The Province and its election partners are providing guidance to local governments to give people in several B.C. communities the opportunity to safely participate in local government byelections and assent votes during the COVID-19 restart and recovery period.
While local governments will make their own decisions about when and how to hold a vote, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, working in consultation with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, Elections BC, WorkSafeBC, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Local Government Management Association, has developed guidance materials to help local governments support safe, physically distanced voting.
This material highlights key areas to consider in planning for a safe byelection or assent vote, including:
- offering enhanced mail-ballot voting options;
- offering additional advanced voting opportunities;
- selecting and setting up a voting place for physically distant, in-person voting;
- reducing high-touch interactions for voter registration, solemn declarations and signing voting books; and
- managing curbside voting or special voting opportunities to improve access to voting.
Local governments are developing plans for these byelections and assent votes in consultation with public health officials and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The ministry is working directly with local governments to ensure each community will have the election guidance, advice and options it needs to make its own decisions about how to safely proceed with election processes.
At the height of the pandemic, Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, deferred pending byelections and assent votes. This was done at the request of local governments and public health officials. At the time, Victoria, Rossland and Lytton were planning to hold byelections and Kamloops was planning an assent vote. Several other local governments with vacancies have since delayed their pending byelections.
Local governments with pending byelections and assent votes are being supported by ministry staff as they make election plans. They are encouraged to continue working with ministry staff to confirm plans and timelines to arrange safe, fair and accessible elections.
- B.C. is in Phase 3 of the safe restart plan. The operations of local governments, businesses and other organizations must comply with public health and safety guidance from the provincial health officer and WorkSafeBC.
- There are 14 B.C. communities needing to hold byelections or assent votes to fill vacancies on their councils and boards.
- The ministry, in consultation with its partners, has drafted guidelines for those local governments considering holding byelections and assent votes in their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Local governments can use the information provided, in conjunction with the Local Government Act and their election procedure bylaw, to establish clear processes and procedures for these events that support the recommended provincial health officer health and safety measures, including physical distancing and those set out by WorkSafeBC.
Read the guidelines for local governments considering holding byelections and assent votes in their communities: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/download/7DC321229C304FB69ED157E1966C7486
For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/
Or follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter: @CDCofBC
To view the provincial health officer’s order on mass gatherings, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics