Electoral change ahead
Proxy voting, spending limits different

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 06/99) - Increasing the number of seats is not the only electoral change for Yellowknifers set to go to the polls Dec. 6.

Since the last election, Elections NWT has incorporated several changes to the way people vote.

Proxy voting for example used to be loose and easy, according to NWT elections' training and information officer Brian Armstrong.

"Candidates used to come into offices and take a whole stack of proxy vote forms," he said.

"Now there's tighter restrictions."

Proxy voting is when someone signs a form indicating that someone else can cast a ballot on their behalf.

Usually the person specifies who they want the voter casting their vote to vote for.

New regulations mean that one eligible voter can only act as a proxy voter for one person, ending what Armstrong calls "abuse" of the process seen in ridings such as Thebacha where a court case followed proxy voting irregularities last time.

Those choosing to have someone cast a ballot on their behalf also must be absent from the polling station on Dec. 6 and live more than 50 kilometres from the office of the returning officer.

Another change involves candidate spending limits.

The new spending limit is $30,000 instead of $20,000 but it covers six months before election day instead of only 45 days.

"Before they could spend unlimited amounts before the (45-day) campaign period started," Armstrong said.

"Then they could spend $20,000 in the campaign period."

The expenses for the campaign in general is not known although the last election cost about $910,000 when there were 24 seats.

Armstrong said 19 returning officers will be hired -- one for each riding -- within the next couple weeks and trained in late August.

Enumerators are needed for each polling division and will be trained Sept. 9 through 17.

Aside from those short-term positions, Armstrong said NWT Elections also needs deputy returning officers and poll clerks.

"It's hard to find people who are looking for short-term work like that," he said of the returning officers.

"They'll open their offices in October and they will stay open until mid-December."

Anyone who has lived in the North for one year is eligible to vote regardless of whether they have moved from one riding to another within that time.