B.C. gets ready to vote 

All candidates meeting in Whistler May 3

The 38 th Provincial General Election is just four weeks away, on May 17, and election campaigns are kicking into high gear across the province.

The Yes Campaign, which is backing the referendum on electoral reform, will also be making its final pitch to replace the current first-past-the-post electoral system with the Single Transferable Vote system.

Elections B.C. is always working to update its voter lists, and is offering B.C. residents an opportunity to update their voter information online or by phone until April 26. After that point, if they are not registered, residents will have to wait in line to register to vote.

To help Whistler residents prepare for this election, we’ve put together a voter guide with all the information you need.

How to Vote

To vote in B.C. you need to be a Canadian citizen, be 18 years of age or older on election day, be a resident of the electoral district, and have been a resident of B.C. for at least six months on election day. You also have to be registered as a voter within your electoral district, and not be disqualified in any way by the Election Act.

You can register in advance in several ways:

• By visiting the Elections B.C. website at www.elections.bc.ca;

• By calling the Elections B.C. toll-free number, 1-800-661-8683;

• By mailing in the registration card all B.C. residences should have received in the mail;

• By visiting the closest Electoral District Office. For Whistler residents, that’s 38075 2 nd Avenue in Squamish. The hours of operations are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The phone number is 604-815-2000.

• By downloading an Application for Registration at www.elections.bc.ca/reg/register.htm, and either mailing it (Elections B.C., PO Box 9275 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC V8W9J6); faxing it to 1-866-466-0665; or scanning and e-mailing it to electionsbc@elections.bc.ca.

If you cannot register in advance, you can register on the day of the election at Whistler’s polling station. You must bring two pieces of identification, and proof of address.

If you’re going to be out of the district on May 17, or cannot make it the polling station:

• Advance Voting will be held from noon to 9 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday, May 11-14.

• Absentee Voting is for people who can’t vote in advance or on election day in their district, but are able to vote at other polling locations around the province.

• Alternative Absentee Voting is for people who will be absent from B.C., cannot physically make it to the polls, or are prevented from voting due to weather or other environmental conditions. You can request a mail-in voting package from Elections B.C. by calling 1-800-661-8683, or by applying online at www.elections.bc.ca.

Where to Vote

Voting in Whistler will take place at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 17. Other locations may be added, and locations for Pemberton and Squamish were still being confirmed at press time.

The Candidates

The incumbent for the West Vancouver-Garibaldi Electoral District, Ted Nebbeling of the B.C. Liberal Party, is stepping down after the election. There are currently three candidates registered for this riding:

Joan McIntyre of West Vancouver is running for the B.C. Liberal Party. She has her own web page at www.joanmcintyre.com. The B.C. Liberal website is at www.bcliberals.com.

Lyle Fenton of Squamish is running for the NDP, although his candidacy won’t be official until after the constituency association holds its nomination meeting in Squamish on April 17. The NDP website is at www.bc.ndp.ca.

Dennis Perry is running for the B.C. Green Party. He has his own website at www.dennisperry.ca. The B.C. Greens website is at www.greenparty.bc.ca.

All Candidates Meeting

Whistler residents will get a chance to meet these candidates, and any others that might file, at the Whistler All Candidates Meeting on Tuesday, May 3 at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre. The meeting will get underway at 7:30 p.m. with each candidate presenting their platform before the meeting is opened for questions. Details of the meeting are still being confirmed by the host, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

The Referendum on Electoral Reform

Every voter will get two ballots this year – one to choose the Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) for their riding, and one for the Referendum on Electoral Reform.

Last year the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Form reviewed various proportional representation systems in use around the world, and voted to promote the Single Transferable Vote System that is currently in use in Ireland, in two Australian States and Territories, and in other regional governments.

If the referendum is passed, the STV system will be used in the next provincial election which is scheduled for May 12, 2009.

In order to pass, 60 per cent of voters in at least 48 of 79 electoral districts must vote "yes" to the referendum question: "Should British Columbia change to the BC-STV electoral system as recommended by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform?"

For more information on the STV system, visit www.stvforbc.com.

Important Dates

April 26 – Last day to pre-register to vote. You can register online at www.elections.bc.ca, at your closest local district electoral office (38075 2 nd Avenue, Squamish or 103-565 17 th St., West Vancouver), or by calling Elections B.C.’s toll free number at 1-800-661-8683.

May 3 – All Candidates Meeting

May 17 – 38 th Provincial General Election. Voting is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre.

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