The City of Merritt voted in favour of holding a byelection to fill the vacant councillor seat.

At the city council meeting on Dec. 12, council unanimously approved a bylaw paving the way for a byelection to fill the vacant councillor position left by the passing of Coun. Claire Newman.

Coun. Newman was first elected to Logan Lake’s council in 2008 and served until moving to Merritt and running for council in the October 2022 municipal elections. Newman tragically passed away on July 5 in an apparent hit-and-run close to Valemount, on her way to visit family.

The newly approved bylaw no. 2357 will now authorize the city to use the provincial list of voters as the register of resident electors, eliminating same day registration and resulting in shorter wait times for electors when attending voting opportunities. Those who are not registered on the provincial list will continue to be able to register at the time of voting.

Another change introduced by the new bylaw is regarding the procedures with using automatic vote counting systems.

“The City will be renting electronic voting machines,” the city staff report reads. “These machines have been used successfully in many jurisdictions in British Columbia and Canada for a number of years and undergo logic and accuracy testing prior to deployment for election purposes.”

According to a staff report, residents are expected to head to the polls to elect a new city councillor on April 20, 2024. 

The official dates for advanced polls and general poll are expected to be discussed in upcoming city council meetings.