How to cast a ballot from the bush? This Yukoner used Skype

Yukoner Norm Carlson will likely never see an election candidate at his door as he lives in a remote cabin. But he still managed to cast his ballot in the territorial election.

Norm Carlson was one of many Yukoners to make use of new special ballot provisions this year

'I do try to keep on Yukon politics,' said Norm Carlson, who has a satellite internet connection at his remote cabin, but no polling station anywhere nearby. (Submitted by Norm Carlson)

Yukoner Norm Carlson will likely never see an election candidate at his door. That's because he lives in a remote bush cabin, about 135 kilometres down river from Dawson City.

But Carlson has still managed to cast his ballot in the territorial election, becoming the first Yukoner to vote by Skype. He's one of thousands who have already voted in the election, making use of new special ballot provisions or advance polling days. 

"I feel great about it," he said, speaking to CBC News from his remote cabin via Skype. "I do try to keep up on Yukon politics."

Carlson said the satelite internet connection at his cabin allows him to follow Yukon news and politics, but he knew he'd never make it to a polling station on election day, Nov. 7.

"Right now, the river is not passable because there's a lot of ice coming down," he said.

Carlson scanned his driver's licence and sent a copy to Elections Yukon, then arranged a call with elections officials to tell them his choice on the ballot.

"It all worked pretty well," he said.

Nearly a quarter of electors have already voted

Dave Wilkie, Yukon's assistant chief electoral officer, says about "five or six" Yukoners in remote areas made use of new provisions (passed by the legislative assembly earlier this year) which allow them to vote over the phone — or by Skype, like Carlson. The deadline to cast such special ballots was Monday. 

Yukon's assistant chief electoral officer, Dave Wilkie, says dozens of people voted using special ballots this year. Thousands more voted in advance polls this week. (CBC)

Wilkie is pleased that people are taking advantage of the new rules to ensure that their voice is heard. 

"Someone said that if they were going to vote in person, they would have to spend $3,000 to get a helicopter to fly them out of where they are now," he said.

Another new provision allows people to vote for a candidate in their home riding, even if they're out of the riding. The deadline for those special ballots also passed on Monday.

Wilkie says about 50 people opted for such "inter-district voting."

"We were quite surprised. We didn't think there would be that many people using this option."

Yukoners have also made good use this year of another option — advance polling days. Advance polls, typically open for two days, observed longer hours this year.

In all, 5,284 Yukoners voted in the advance polls on Sunday and Monday. That represents about 23 per cent of electors on this year's voting list.

In 2011, 17.7 per cent of electors voted in advance polls. In 2006, the figure was just under 11 per cent.

All special ballots and advance poll ballots will be counted after polls close on election day, Nov. 7. 

With files from Cheryl Kawaja