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CBRM clerk recommends byelection use only e-voting technology

SYDNEY — A Dec. 6 byelection based solely on electronic voting could go ahead in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s District 10 if approved by council at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

CBRM councillors Darren Bruckschwaiger, left, and Lowell Cormier are pictured in a stakeholder session in council chambers in this file photo.

A report by municipal clerk Deborah Campbell outlined her recommendations, but it requires council’s approval to be given the green light.

Under the proposal, the last date for a candidate to file his nomination papers would be Nov. 10.

A byelection became necessary when Darren Bruckschwaiger suddenly resigned his seat on Sept. 3. He’s now working as a labourer in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Two people have already declared their intention to become candidates in the race.

It’s expected the special election will cost between $35,000 and $40,000, Campbell said.

Based on the success of electronic, or e-voting, from the 2012 municipal election, Campbell said it was a popular method, with 56.9 per cent of voters using e-voting via telephone or the Internet.

In District 10, about 56.4 per cent of people used the new technology to record their vote.

She estimated the cost of a paper ballot-only byelection at roughly $35,000. That’s compared to using a combination of paper ballots and e-voting, which could cost about $40,000.

“Currently there is approximately $200,000 in the election reserve budget, so the costs can be easily covered within existing budget,” Campbell explained in her report.

“However, we may have to increase the annual reserve over the next two fiscal years to ensure there are sufficient funds to run the 2016 general election.”

There would be a period of nine days leading up to Dec. 6, where residents in District 10 could vote either online or by telephone.

Two electronic polling stations in the district would be set up for people who don’t have access to either a telephone or the Internet, as well as to troubleshoot for people not familiar with the technology.

Campbell said based on the ease and popularity of e-voting in the 2012 municipal election, coupled with the fact this is an election on a “small scale,” should be reason enough to do away with paper ballots.

She also pointed out the byelection would require “fewer election facilities, election workers and election supplies” and proxy votes and Certificates of Eligibility would not be needed to cast a ballot.

Intelivote Systems Inc. was contracted to run the election voting system in 2012.

Campbell said the company was contacted and they are available to provide the expertise needed for this byelection at a cost of $1 per elector. She said that adds up to approximately $7,900 plus tax.

Municipal procurement policy requires three companies to provide bids when the cost of the service is estimated to be greater than $2,000 and less than $10,000.

Based on time constraints and the familiarity the company has with the CBRM, Campbell said council should “deviate” from this policy to allow Intelivote to move ahead with its planning for the byelection in District 10.

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