Proxy vote policy goes to Essex town council
New rules expected to be 'air tight', says councillor
Essex town council is poised to vote on a new set of rules governing proxy voting in its municipal elections.
"I'm thrilled that this is coming to council. This is something that became apparent after the last election that we very much needed in the town of Essex and I think perhaps throughout the province," said Ward 4 Coun. Sherry Bondy.
She pushed for tighter rules after fraud charges were laid against Mayor Larry Snively following the last election. The charges have not been proven in court.
"Another thing that I think we need to have in our election is more advanced polls," said Bondy. "We need to have an advanced poll in McGregor at the community centre and an advanced poll in Colchester at the community centre."
"If we give our residents ample opportunities to get out to the polls themselves, there'll be less need for proxy votes."
Under the new rules, if a person wants someone else to vote for them, they must obtain a form from the clerk's office — either in person or by mail. That form will have a serial number on it.
Then, the proxy has to bring that form and something identifying the person who they are casting votes for to the clerk's office. They would be certified to vote as a proxy, in advance of the election.
"And it just seems to be the way to go to ensure that the right person is getting the right form, and you are making sure that your wishes are are met," said Ward 3 Coun. Steve Bjorkman.
Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher agrees the town has put in place the right safeguards, adding such measures should be adopted by other municipalities.
"We need to prevent fraudulent voting. It's very dangerous and can easily be organized in a lot of jurisdictions by someone without a lot of tracing of who's doing it," said Conacher.
Mayor Snively would not comment on the new rules. His next court date is May 28 in provincial offences court at 9:30 a.m. for judicial pretrial.
Council votes on the new rules Monday night.