The upcoming plebiscite for Kitimatians to decide whether or not they accept the Joint Review Panel’s 209 conditions for the proposed Northern Gateway Pipelines proposal will be slightly relaxed from how an official election is conducted.
The differences between a real election and this plebiscite comes down to the fact that you have to have been a resident of Kitimat for only 30 days before you’d be allowed to vote, and you also do not have to be a Canadian citizen.
In questioning councillors on the specifics, Douglas Channel Watch representative Murray Minchin said the Canadian citizenship requirement is beneficial to some in Kitimat. He said there are many people in town who do not have a Canadian citizenship but who’d be allowed to vote this time. They discovered that when they had gone door-to-door.
As for how voting will play out, the District of Kitimat’s returning officers will have a voter list of residents and you will sign your name on the form to prove you had voted.
Deputy Municipal Clerk Shirley Boudreault explained the process at the March 24 committee of the whole meeting.
In the case you’re not on a voters list, you’ll have to produce identification showing that you have a primary address in Kitimat. An address showing you live in a work camp will not satisfy the requirements of Kitimat being a permanent residence.
In the absence of any identification, potential voters will be asked a series of questions to determine their eligibility.
Chief Administrative Officer Ron Poole admitted that there is always a potential for some people to commit voter fraud, but much in the same way the same opportunity exists in municipal and provincial elections. There is an element of trust that comes into play.
During the count of the ballots, scrutineers have been appointed to watch over the process. An invitation to the community was made for the positions, and three people representing the “yes” vote to the question came forward immediately.
Boudreault said that the District went to people who were known to represent the “no” vote and invited them to apply to be scrutineers as well, to ensure both sides were represented.
Six scrutineers have now been appointed in total, three representing each side of the vote.
The first chance to vote in the plebiscite is April 2. The polls will be open in the meeting room between the Tamitik Arena and the swimming pool.
April 9 will be the next advance poll, at the same location.
Both days will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The main voting day is April 12. Voting will take place at the same place as above, and at the Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School cafeteria. Also from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The yes or no question will ask: Do you support the final report recommendations of the Joint Review Panel (JRP) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and National Energy Board, that the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project be approved, subject to 209 conditions set out in Volume 2 of the JRP’s final report?