The City of Merritt council unanimously adopted a bylaw outlining the election procedures to choose former councillor Norm Brigden’s replacement at its regular meeting June 12.
The bylaw paves the way for the appointment of the chief election officer, most likely City of Merritt deputy clerk Carole Fraser, who served in that post in past elections.
“It outlines all of the procedures for the byelection,” explains Fraser. Those procedures include how to format ballots, hold advance and special voting opportunities, and handle recounts.
City council is expected to appoint the chief election officer, who oversees the byelection, and a deputy at its next regular meeting June 26.
The chief election officer is responsible for officially calling the byelection to fill the seat Brigden left vacant. Saturday, Sept. 15 is the planned general voting day.
“The nomination packages will be available once the chief election officer is appointed,” says Fraser.
“It’s looking like the nomination period will open on the 31st of July and close on the 10th of August.”
The 10-day nomination period is followed by a seven-day withdrawal period, when candidates can leave the race without seeking permission from the provincial community minister.
Candidates then have 30 days for campaigning before the general voting day. In addition, advance voting days are slated for Sept. 5 and Sept. 12.
In past elections, general voting took place at the Merritt Civic Centre while the advance votes were held at Merritt City Hall.
Provincial laws set out the length of the nomination, withdrawal, and campaigning periods for local elections, says Fraser. They also require the City of Merritt to advertise the byelection for at least two weeks in local media before the general voting day, she adds.
“Whether it’s a byelection or a general election, it’s a very finely tuned instrument.”
A city contingency fund will cover the byelection’s costs, expected to total as much as $15,000.
Brigden, elected in last November’s election, resigned from council effective May 31 after accepting a job offer at a Nanaimo-area lumber company. He had also served as a councillor from 2005-08.
Because his council seat will remain vacant until the byelection winner is sworn in, the City of Merritt will save about $4,000 to $5,000 on his salary.