Time to decide your leaders

Where to vote Saturday and voting machine explained.

It is time to decide whose vision for our towns, villages, schools and regional districts we want to follow.

Municipal election day is this Saturday.

We have submitted proposals from potential mayors, councillors and regional district directors. More coverage on forums and interviews with candidates can be found at interior-news.com/municipal-election/.

BC Transit is also offering free rides in the Hazeltons area for people to get out and vote.

Voting locations are as follows:

Smithers

–Saturday special voting for patients/residents/staff at Bulkley Lodge from 9-11 a.m. and Bulkley Valley District Hospital from 2-4 p.m.

–Saturday at Walnut Park Elementary School at 4092 Mountainview Avenue from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Telkwa

–Saturday at the Village office on Hankin Avenue from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

New Hazelton

–Saturday at the New Hazelton Meeting Centre at 3226 Bowser Street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Hazelton

–Saturday at 4265 Government Street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako

–Saturday at Walnut Park Elementary School, Village of Telkwa office, or Round Lake Hall from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine

–Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Kitwanga Valley Recreation Centre 3754 Mill Road, Gitanyow Independent School on 4th Avenue, Gitsegukla Community Centre Gym 710 Ray Charles Avenue, South Hazelton at Mount Rocher Church 2060 Broadway Street, New Hazelton Meeting Centre 3226 Bowser Street, Hazelton 4625 Government Street, Glen Vowell Band Office 7900 Sik-e-dakh Road, Kispiox Community Hall 1296 Lax SE’El, and the Witset Band Office 205 Beaver Road.

Voting machine explained

Smithers CAO Anne Yanciw explained how the voting machine works to avoid any confusion:

When a voter is handed a ballot, they are instructed to vote for ‘up to…’ for each race. In the voting booth, there are detailed instructions, again stating to vote for “up to…” for each race. Ballots indicate the total number in each race. Ballot information from the municipality consists of the names of the candidates and the race they are running in.

When a ballot is put into the machine, the machine recognizes invalid marks or blank (spoiled) ballots, over-voted ballots and under-voted ballots. A window in the machine displays a message indicating whether it is an under-vote and in which race. (It does not provide any details.)

At that time, the election official asks the voter to read the message and to confirm this was their intention. If it was the intention of the voter, they proceed. If it was not the intention, the voter can return to the voting booth to vote as they intended. The election official does not read the message unless the voter requires help to do so.

Yanciw said approximately 25 per cent of voters who have under-voted did not do so intentionally and are grateful for the opportunity to vote completely.

“Election officials have gone through extensive training and all processes have been verified by the Province, our municipal lawyer and the voting machine company. It is common practice and within legislation for election officials to assist voters in voting as confirmed in the Local Government Act. The election officials sign a solemn declaration to protect the privacy of the process. This gives election officials, through signing the declaration, the authority to assist voters,” explained Yanciw in an email, who stressed election officials take the integrity of the voting process very seriously.

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