Let's drop 'problematic' proxy voting this year, Whitehorse councillor suggests

'I think there is an opportunity for potential misuse,' says Samson Hartland.

Samson Hartland says city should 'strongly consider' scrapping the practice for this fall's election

Proxy voting became an issue in the 2016 Yukon election, after a candidate was charged by police in relation to use of proxy applications. (CBC)

Whitehorse city councillor Samson Hartland is questioning the need for proxy voting in this year's municipal election, citing "potential misuse" of the option.

At Monday's city council meeting, councillors reviewed the bylaw for procedures of the Oct. 18 election. The bylaw would allow for proxy voting, meaning Whitehorse citizens could permit another person to cast a ballot on their behalf, if they are not in the city on voting day.

Samson Hartland suggests the city should 'strongly consider' dropping proxy voting for the city election in October. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Hartland doesn't like it.

"Assigning your vote to somebody else is a bit problematic for me," said Hartland.

Proxy voting became an issue in the 2016 Yukon territorial election, when Liberal candidate Tamara Goeppel was charged by RCMP under the Elections Act, related to her use of proxy applications in her riding. She has pleaded not guilty and the case is still before the courts.

Hartland suggests Whitehorse should "strongly consider" dropping proxy voting for the city election.

"I think there is an opportunity for potential misuse of that," said Hartland. "I think that's why you see some jurisdictions moving away from the ability to proxy vote."

According to the acting manager of legislative services for the city, Norma Felker, Whitehorse is still looking at using proxy voting because the municipal election window is small, and does not accommodate those who have pre-planned vacations or work out of town (for example, in the mining industry).

Whitehorse first allowed proxy voting in 2012, and then again made it an option in the 2015 election. Felker said more than a dozen people voted by proxy in 2015.  

Currently, Yukon's Municipal Act does not regulate proxy voting, so it must be written into the city's election procedures bylaw for this year.

Hartland points out that the bylaw allows for other ways to cast ballots ahead of election day — for example, through special ballots and advance polls. Special ballots will be open for two weeks before the election, says Hartland.