Each time a municipal election is held, voters are urged to cast their ballots, although voter turnout is consistently low.
In the 2011 municipal election, 36.1 per cent of Summerland’s eligible voters participated and in the 2008 municipal election, voter turnout was below 47 per cent.
Civic elections are important and the decisions made at the council table will affect our day-to-day lives much more noticeably than decisions made by provincial or federal levels of government.
For this reason alone, it makes sense to consider including mail-in ballots and electronic voting options for those who are not able to vote on election day or in the advance polls.
Any democratic election must be accessible to the voters.
Those affected by mail-in ballots are snowbirds and others who are away from the community on election day and at the advance polling dates, and those who are eligible to vote here but live in other communities.
A mail-in ballot option would allow some the opportunity to vote in civic elections, but it would not address a much more important issue, namely voter apathy.
The number who did not vote in the last municipal election is far greater than the number who were unable to do so.
Even in communities where mail-in ballots are allowed, the number of votes received by mail is a small percentage of the total number of ballots cast.
While it is important to provide accessible voting options, such options by themselves will do little to change the total number of voters in communities where apathy runs high.
Without an active, engaged electorate, efforts to provide additional voting options will do little to significantly change the number who take the time to cast their ballots.