The upcoming municipal election will be different than the last one if a proposed bylaw is passed by Revelstoke City Council.
The most significant proposed changes include regulating the size and amount of campaign signs, utilizing an electronic voting system and changing to day-of voter registration.
“This is just bringing up modern day techniques for elections,” said Councillor Gary Sulz.
The bylaw was brought forward for first, second and third reading at the May 22 council meeting, however councillors Aaron Orlando, Linda Nixon as well as Mayor Mark McKee voiced opposition to adopting the bylaw at that time.
“I think when you get down to–especially details like telling people they are not allowed to,on private property, support their candidate in a certain way–that the people are going to have an issue with that,” Orlando said.
The proposed bylaw requires that signs be no bigger than 61 cm by 61 cm (2 ft by 2 ft) at a height of no more than 1.8 metres.
They cannot be electric, illuminated, moving or flashing.
They are not to have attachments such as balloons, kites or inflatable devices.
Though signs will continue to be allowed on private property with the property owners permission, no more than six election signs per candidate can be posted on public property.
“Mostly the signage [regulations] came forward because of complaints from the scene of the last local election,” said Dawn Low, Revelstoke’s director of corporate administration. “There was citizens complaining about the clutter and how long the signs stayed up which is what made us look at regulation.”
Orlando was also concerned that upcoming candidates would perceive this decision as giving those councillors who choose to run for office again an unfair advantage.
The mayor was concerned about freedom of speech and individualism, reminding everyone that the signs are not up for very long.
“I think we are being too officious and restrictive,” McKee said.
The councillors also expressed concern with the day-of voter registration and the requirement of one photo ID as well as a second piece of ID.
Councillor Connie Brothers questioned whether there could be issues with seniors not having a piece of photo ID, but Low said there are options for those without government issued photo ID.
There was also discussion about the electronic voting system.
Low assured the councillors that the system is simple. Voters still get their slip of paper and fill in the ovals in the privacy area but instead of putting them in a ballot box they insert them into a machine where there will be a staff person to assist them.
“I will have election results within the hour instead of seven or eight hours later, and that’s being conservative I could have them within 20 minutes,” Low said.
Council voted to postpone the third reading of the bylaw to their next meeting in order to engage with the public on the proposed changes.
Those who wish to provide input on the bylaw should email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on June 6.