AMCTO Election Express # 2 – Keep Calm and Prepare

Happy March Everyone!

Time to begin thinking about what you need to prepare for in 2018! With all of the changes to the Municipal Elections Act, election work plans all over the province will need to be adjusted and tweaked to ensure your municipality is set up for success.

Certainly, questions are plentiful such as:

  • Should you be considering staffing changes to prepare for 2018?
  • Do you need to develop or refresh your election work plan?
  • Where exactly do all of the changes to the Municipal Elections Act fit in?
  • When should you be worrying about some of those changes?
  • What do I need to do now so I’m ready for later?

Many members are already meeting with each other to learn from past experiences and to understand how they will all be incorporating the changes and new timelines. AMCTO Election Expresses will seek to be designed to align with important timelines in the election calendar and hopefully provide you with key information you will need to ensure you are successful in preparing for 2018. If there are areas of focus you would like to have covered please be sure to let us know!

As the election calendar indicates the decision to use Ranked Ballots as an option in 2018 will be one of the first major decisions your Council will need to consider. Many municipalities have taken reports to Council highlighting the various changes to the Act and have used the same report as an opportunity to provide their Council with a recommendation on ranked ballots.

Below are key dates to consider before May 1, 2017:

Ranked Ballot Consideration:

  • The last day to issue notice of an open house has passed and would have been February 15, 2017. This would then allow time to advertise, and host an open house no later than March 17, 2017, so that you could then host a public meeting no later than March 31st, in order for the required by-law to use ranked ballot for the 2018 municipal election could be passed by May 1, 2017.

Alternative Voting Methods:

  • A by-law is required to authorize the use of voting and vote-counting equipment such as voting machines, voting recorders or optical scanning vote tabulators. A by-law is also required to authorize electors to use an alternative voting method which does not require electors to attend a voting place in order to vote, such as voting by mail, telephone or internet.
  • If your municipality is considering equipment changes or alternative voting methods, the by-law to authorize the use of alternative methods is due by May 1, 2017.
  • In preparation of the May 1st deadline for Alternative Voting methods and vote counting equipment, review your vendor agreements, begin drafting any necessary requests for proposals that you will need to do, or explore options if you are to single source vendors.

Requests for Proposal 

  • Once a decision has been made on either an alternative voting method or the type of equipment you want to acquire (and whether to rent or buy), a Request for Proposal (RFP) should be issued to obtain competitive quotes, you may also consider if you municipality can single source your vendors. It is critical to involve the appropriate staff from the outset since they can play an important role in preparing the RFP, evaluating the RFP submissions and assisting you during implementation and roll-out.

Procedure and Policy Updates: 

  • Begin to update any procedures and forms related for Alternative Voting as the deadline to have these completed is now December 31, 2017.
  • Begin to update internal policies and procedures e.g. use of corporate resource during an election, sign by-laws, third party advertising procedures etc.

Ward Boundary Review: 

  • Ward boundary reviews require consideration by Council and will require redrawing new voting subdivision boundaries. Get an early start on this work as it will require a significant amount of work and resources as the voting subdivision boundaries must be provided to MPAC no later than March 31, 2018.

Within 45 days of passage of a ward boundary by-law, the Minister of Municipal Affairs or any other person or agency may appeal to the OMB. It has been estimated that it could take 8 to 10 months to conclude any appeals of its ward boundaries. Ward boundaries must be in place and all appeals finalized prior to the end of 2017 in order for the boundaries to be in place for the 2018 elections.

After the period for appeals has concluded, implementation will commence with the following key activities:

  • Redrawing ward maps
  • Integrate into geospatial platform
  • Review and redraw all voting subdivision boundaries based on the new ward boundaries
  • Notification to MPAC and school boards
  • Provide final voting subdivisions to MPAC
  • Undertaking communications through the 2018 election communication plan.

Election Calendar Update:

As AMCTO released the Elections Calendar last month, we anticipated amending this working document as it was used across the sector. Based on minor feedback, we are pleased to provide an updated calendar here and note that the following changes were made:

  • Several sections were corrected throughout the calendar;
  • There is enhanced wording around the requirement for accessibility planning;
  • There is acknowledgement that this calendar was developed with election administrators in mind and while it contains legislative timelines – it also contains timelines that election administrators believe are useful;
  • Finally, there may be small discrepancies related to certain dates as there may be issues with timing based on local circumstance/preference.   

AMCTO will commit to keeping this calendar updated as needed in future election expresses. Click here to access the updated and designed Election Calendar that is available with your upcoming Municipal Monitor magazine.

What’s Next? 

The next Express will address clarity around the direct election of Regional/County Chairs, and additional communication requirements (i.e. Reports to Council – Do it now 2017 and in 2018). Finally, upon launching the new AMCTO website this year – we will host an active discussion forum for members filled with Q&As from your peers on all things related to elections.

For any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact Rick Johal – Director of Member and Sector Relations (rjohal@amcto.com).

For more: 

AMCTO Election Express #1: New Legislation and The New Municipal Election Calendar  

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