Fire trustee “election”

Wednesday, May 1 2019

I attended the 2019 Gabriola Fire Improvement District AGM/Trustees Election Wednesday evening and, though the turnout was a good one, the manner in which the “election” was organized and conducted was anything but a good example of a democratic, electoral process in action. 

The whole thing made me ask questions about what was happening that evening.

-Why wasn’t anyone checking ID (when people were arriving and signing in so as to be registered to vote) to ensure that people were who they said they were at sign-in time? Why weren’t people’s names cross-referenced to a list of property owners to ensure that they were, in fact, eligible to vote?

To be fair, verbal announcements were made stating that, “You must be a property owner and you must sign-in to vote.” 

I’m not suggesting that anyone did this but, the way things were run, anyone…property- owner or not, could have walked into that fire hall, acquired one or more ballots, and voted multiple times if they had chosen to.

-Why were ballots readily handed out by volunteers (including myself) instead of given to people as they signed-in to register?

-Why weren’t the ballots numbered, so as to be easily counted, kept track of and, if necessary, easily re-counted?

-Why was there little scrutiny regarding who received a ballot or how many? I personally stood next to my elderly neighbour as she received a second ballot, after inadvertently spoiling her first ballot, without ever telling the person distributing ballots about the first one (my honest neighbour did, in fact, discard the spoiled one).

My final question is this:

Does what I’ve just described sound like a well-run, democratic election?

The election Wednesday evening was to choose trustees to be entrusted with spending our tax dollars, so you would think, so as to avoid any doubt about the outcome, these elections would be run in a more strict, official manner. They were not.

The whole point of any good electoral process should result in showing absolutely no doubt about fairness and transparency. Every eligible vote counts. This is 2019. We can do better. I would feel a lot more confident in the GFPID board and staff if they adopted more rigorous, official guidelines/practices regarding how they run their elections - official guidelines which all other levels of government, including municipal, provincial and federal, adopted long ago.

~ Drew Staniland