Eligible voters will soon head to the polls in a historic election for the City of Merritt, marking their ballots and selecting their local government ‘dream team.’ A record number of 18 council candidates are joining four mayoral and school trustee hopefuls to secure a four year term ending in 2026. With advanced polls now underway, there are multiple opportunities for locals to ensure their voice is heard and their ballot is counted.
The Local Government Act, a piece of provincial legislation, sets out the parameters for municipal elections across B.C. Municipalities themselves administer the election process, and Director of Corporate Services Greg Lowis is taking on the role of Chief Election Officer in this fall’s race. He sat down with the Herald ahead of polls opening to talk eligibility, voting opportunities, and City election procedures.
“The Mayor and six people elected to council serve an absolutely vital role in making sure our community is moving in the direction that Merrittonians want it to move in,” said Lowis.
“We have general elections for municipalities every four years in British Columbia, and this is the process by which Merrittonians decide who they want speaking for them, and what direction the City should be going in.”
An eligible voter is anyone who is a Canadian citizen, 18 years of age or older, and has lived in B.C. for at least six months prior to voting. They must present two valid pieces of identification, and not be disqualified from casting a ballot under the Local Government Act. Merritt has never subscribed to the Provincial voters list, which means there is no record of a number of eligible voters for this coming election. The City’s last election in 2018 saw less than half of the eligible 5,184 voters cast a vote.
Voters in Merritt will register to vote at the time they go to cast their ballot. To do this, anyone wanting to vote will need to present two pieces of ID proving their identity, address, and signature. This could include a BC Drivers License, health card, credit card, or citizenship card, The City is required to record the name, address, and either birthdate or partial Social Insurance Number of those who cast a ballot. Those not able to prove their address are required to make a solemn declaration to a polling clerk.
“If a person doesn’t have that, we can use two pieces of ID, as long as we can prove their identity and signature, for example bank-issued credit and debit cards. If they’re doing this, they must make a solemn declaration to the polling clerk about their address,” said Lowis.
“The information voters provide will only be used for running the election, so that will be destroyed after the election is complete.”
General voting day is set for October 15, 2022, at the Merritt Civic Centre (1950 Mamette Avenue), from 8AM to 8PM. Advanced polling was held on October 5, and will be again on October 12 at the same time and location. For more information on the nomination process, contact [email protected], or call City hall at 250-378-4224.