Cumberland is looking at a couple of changes for voting practices in this fall’s council election.
At the March 26 meeting, council discussed changes proposed in a staff report to the Election Procedures Bylaw.
This would include provisions to allow mail-in ballots for voting as well as eliminating a special voting opportunity Cumberland provides to seniors. Council had budgeted for mail-in balloting this year.
The village had not reviewed the bylaw since 2014, and corporate officer Rachel Parker said if council wishes to make changes, it will have to do so by the summer, to give time before the general election in October.
Many jurisdictions have relied on mail-in ballots for voting in recent years due to COVID-19. Parker said they do not know at this point what the COVID situation might present later on.
“The future’s uncertain right now with public health,” she said.
She also referred to the opportunities the measure can provide for people who have extra difficulty getting to the polls.
“It’s a great opportunity to see these people use mail-in balloting,” she said.
There can be timing issues because of the duration from when ballots are finalized and when they must be returned through the mail.
“It’s a very short timeline,” she added.
The staff report also said the mail-in option can provide an alternative in light of potential COVID issues for the special voting place for two hours at Cumberland Lodge on the Wednesday prior to the election. It also mentions that if council opts for this, the village can move a second advance voting day from the Saturday before to the Wednesday before general election day on Oct. 15.
Parker said early voting is becoming more popular with residents at election time.
“We’ve been really successful with advance voting,” she said.
Council members voted to have staff bring forward amendments to the elections bylaw to allow for mail-in balloting and to eliminate the special voting day.