The District of Sooke will allow email voting in future alternative approval process (AAP) elections.
The policy decision comes on the heels of a controversial APP held this summer over the Sooke Lions Club-proposed community centre at John Phillips Memorial Park.
An alternative approval process is a method of voting that enables electors to state their opposition to a proposition put forward by council. If more than 10 per cent of electors express their opposition, council cannot proceed with the proposal. This is an alternative method to an election or referendum that may be used by a council in some instances to seek approval from electors.
Last summer’s AAP saw 9.13 per cent of Sooke voters oppose the Lions club proposal.
William Wallace, a spokesperson for Sooke on Fire, said he’s confident the APP would have received the required votes if email voting was allowed.
In a report to council, municipal staff said it reviewed the recent AAP vote, and feedback from the public was that many would have preferred to submit their elector response form electronically.
It’s not common practice in B.C. to consider electronic submissions due to the reliability of the technology.
“Staff believes they have identified a secure way for the forms to be submitted that will alleviate concerns of emails being lost in spam or junk folders or being misdirected,” the report stated.
“The district will create a secure portal on the (district) website through which electors can upload their response forms.”
Coun. Tony St-Pierre raised the issue of social media misinformation on a proposed AAP and the ability for someone to react quickly before knowing all the facts.
“I agree completely with (elector) accessibility, but I’m worried about click-bait democracy,” he said.
Deputy corporate officer Sarah Temple told council that, unlike an election, an AAP allows electors to ask for the return of their form if they change their mind.
The new policy was approved by council unanimously.