Civic election past review, future issues in Council next week: One motion, one report, many questions

Voting place sign 2014Today (July 15) marks exactly eight months since the November 2014 civic elections, so it is timely to notice that the week of July 20 (the last week of City Council before summer hiatus) offers to give us all a look back and forward, at issues BIG and small, regarding the election as a core tool of our democracy. There are two major items going to Council.

REPORT: 2014 Municipal Election Review: Vancouver’s Chief Election Officer, Janice Mackenzie will present her 35-page paper to City Council on Tuesday, July 21. This is in response to motions adopted by City Council in January and February this year.

MOTION: Vancouver Response to Recommendations of the Special Committee on Local
Election Expense Limits. Councillor Adriane Carr has proposed a motion. This is significant. It includes a proposed ban on donations from corporations or unions to local elections in Vancouver, letting only individuals resident in BC make donations; setting a limit per individual of $5,000 total to all candidates and elector organizations combined, per year. (The next civic elections are in 2018.)

CityHallWatch encourages every person concerned about the integrity of our civic elections to review these materials, and provide your comments to City Council in person or in writing. If you indicate a desire to speak, you might have your chance at the July 22 meeting of Council. In particular if you want to help clean up Vancouver civic system, the motion on “Election Expense Limits” is worth of your support. Any hopes that the Provincial Government will take proactive steps to impose such limits are, well, hopeless. That much is totally clear.

Council elected candidates cutoff 2014We had many concerns about problems that undermined the integrity of the election. We attempted to have the Province intervene and prevent the destruction of ballots, but failed. The election was in fact very close, and as you read the Review report, imagine how — if things had been done even slightly differently — the outcome could have been different by thousands of votes, which would have produced an entirely different balance of power.

Below are some links to selected CityHallWatch stories about election issues (more to be added, so pls check back again for more).

Note that the Election Officer’s report to Council for July 21, 2015, says “At the Planning, Transportation, and Environment Standing Committee on January 15, 2015, Council passed a motion regarding the planning and delivery of the 2014 municipal election.” However, we cannot actually find a trace of such a meeting.
There were two motions relating to the review of the 2014 election.
The first motion was proposed in Regular Council on July 20, but discussed and adopted at the Standing Committee on July 21, 2015. Text copied below.
The second motion contained text separated and carried over into a separate motion, which was discussed and adopted by Regular Council on February 3, 2015. Text copied below.
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21-JANUARY-2015

“Review of the 2014 City of Vancouver Civic Election” (FINAL MOTION AS ADOPTED)

WHEREAS
1. Voter turnout increased by 8.8 points in the 2014 Vancouver election;
2. This is the first time that the City of Vancouver has allowed voters to vote at any polling station in the city;
3. There were several media reports of confusion and irregularities at polling stations, including but not limited toinsufficient ballots, inconsistent identification checking and other technical issues;
4. There were media reports of eligible voters, including seniors and persons with disabilities, being discouraged by long waits;
5. There were reports of inconsistent information on the role of Elections BC in the civic election process.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
(a) THAT staff report back to Council to present any official list of public complaints submitted to the City of Vancouver regarding the 2014 civic election.
(b) THAT staff report back to Council to provide information to the public on the processes and procedures during the 2014 City of Vancouver Civic Election, and the statutory role of Elections BC in municipal elections processes and procedures.
(c) THAT staff report back to Council to provide the Chief Elections Officer’s review of the 2014 civic election, including her recommendations to improve processes and procedures, for the next election.

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REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING, 3-FEB-2015

1. Review of the 2014 City of Vancouver Civic Election

Vancouver City Council, at its Regular Council meeting on January 20, 2015, referred a Motion on Notice on the above-noted matter to the Standing Committee on Planning, Transportation and Environment meeting on January 21, 2015, in order to hear from a speaker. Subsequently, on January 21, 2015, Council referred consideration of the motions set out below to the Regular Council meeting on February 3, 2015, as Unfinished Business. Councillor Affleck requested the components of the motion be separated for the vote.

MOVED by Councillor Reimer

A. THAT staff report back to Council to provide analysis on what factors were considered most significant to the 26% increase in voter turnout between the 2011 and 2014 municipal elections.

B. THAT staff report back to Council to provide recommendations for the membership and terms of reference for an independent committee with a broad mandate to:

(i) survey candidates and parties as to their experience in the election;

(ii) review whether the allocation of resources from Council is sufficient to meet expectations in an election; and

(iii) create a plan for advancing previous Council directives to staff regarding electoral procedures including:

(a) Request to Province for ability to implement campaign finance reforms including limits to contributions and a ban on corporate and union donations;

(b) Request to Province for ability to use proportional voting systems;

(c) Request to Province to make anonymous balloting data available in open data format after an election;

(d) Request to Province to conduct an online voting pilot;

(e) Priority Actions 14-18 from the Engaged City Task Force, and recommendation 07.2 from the Healthy City Strategy (set out below):

Engaged City Task Force – Priority Actions 14-18:
14. Increase the number of “positive cues” to encourage voting
15. Target Voter Registration
16. Investigate extending voting rights to permanent residents
17. Use the election ballot to get feedback on voter satisfaction with the current voting system
18. Take Action on campaign finance reform

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