Town declines special ballots for election

Town of Stettler voters won’t get an opportunity to cast mail-in ballots in the next municipal election this October.

Town of Stettler voters won’t get an opportunity to cast mail-in ballots in the next municipal election this October.

Town council turned down the option for absent or out-of-town voters in a vote at its regular meeting last week, one week after the County of Stettler supported the option.

For special voting to occur, councils are required to pass a motion six months prior to nomination day on Sept. 23, with election day Oct. 21.

“You get one bogus vote and it throws the process into disarray,” said Coun. Malcolm Fischer. “You can’t verify the signature.”

For voting with a special ballot, electors would be required to sign special documents to prove their identity and home address, with signatures and submitted in advance to the town in writing, by telephone, fax, in person or by email.

Councillors Fischer, Peter Simons, Al Campbell and acting mayor Steve Wildeboer voted against special ballots, while councillors Leona Thorogood and Darcy Bachman supported the motion.

Mayor Dick Richards was absent from the meeting.

“It gives these people an actual opportunity to vote,” Thorogood said. “We need all the voters.”

One other councillor cautioned against such a vote.

“It is a lot of work,” said Simons, former chief administrative officer for the Village of Donalda.

The town’s assistant chief administrative officer and chief returning officer, Greg Switenky, said the decision could affect 20 to 30 voters, and that council discussed the issue a year ago to further study it for the coming election.

A returning officer plans to visit voters shut-in at hospital and care homes to enable them to cast ballots.

Advance polls will also be scheduled in the coming months.

Council also directed Switenky to research the feasibility of electronic voting machines for the municipal election.

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