Election rules may change before fall vote

Coquitlam wants to increase voter turnout at civic elections and city staff are looking to change the current policies. - trI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
Coquitlam wants to increase voter turnout at civic elections and city staff are looking to change the current policies.
— image credit: trI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

The city of Coquitlam is looking to loosen its rules for election campaigns in an effort to increase voter turnout.

This week, the city's council-in-committee talked about ways to make it easier for municipal candidates to get noticed and to get more people to vote.

The next general elections for city and village councils as well as school board will be held on  Nov. 15.

In Coquitlam, voter turnout is generally below the B.C. average for civic votes: In 2011, the tally was 21.7% versus 29.5% for the rest of the province — and byelection turnouts have been much worse than that.

In an bid to improve those numbers, Coquitlam staff on Monday recommended council revise its 2008 elections policy by allowing, among other things:

• municipal candidates and volunteers to post election signs 14 days before the vote, instead of the 10 days;

• candidates to set up campaign headquarters and to have larger signs at and outside their buildings;

• city staff to install large signs at key locations to remind the public about the upcoming election;

• and increase hours for advance voting.

Coun. Terry O'Neill, who's in his first term, said he would also like the city to permit a rack or kiosk at public facilities — such as city hall, library branches or recreation centres — where candidates can stock their campaign brochures.

Coun. Neal Nicholson suggested candidates take an oath to be respectful to one another during the campaign.

Coun. Chris Wilson, who won his council seat in last November's byelection, said he was frustrated during the campaign by candidates bending the rules on sign placement on private and public property.

While most candidates operate within the guidelines, Coun. Brent Asmundson said, "we will always have problems with people cheating the election laws."

Meanwhile, Port Coquitlam is also considering a revamp of its election sign policy before this fall's civic election.


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