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Municipal Elections 2014

Engaging Voters
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August 2014
You know the importance of:
Providing accurate information about the local election, candidates
and voting procedures
Creating opportunities for citizens to engage in non-partisan
dialogue about voting and the elections
Ensuring citizens have opportunities to share information with you
about their election experience
Encouraging increased voter participation
Managing resources efectively in the delivery of fair and non-
partisan elections
As a Chief Elections Ofcer, you know
the importance of engaging citizens and
supporting them in the exercise of their
democratic rights.
Community engagement is a critical
expression of our democratic rights and
responsibilities.
Its election time in
British Columbia!
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During the 2011 local elections, 29.55% of eligible voters voted in
municipal elections.

In a democratic society, how do we encourage more voters to
participate?
How do we provide information that is accurate and relevant?
CivicInfoBC: http://www.civicinfo.bc.ca/Library/Elections/BC_Voter_Turnout%20--%20Elections%20BC%20--2011.pdf
Engaging voters
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What might citizens need to know about your community
during the 2014 municipal elections?
Who is eligible to vote in your community?
Do voters need to register in advance or at the polls?
Where do voters go to vote in your community?
When are advance poll dates and hours?
Are there special qualities or processes unique to your jurisdiction?
Where are the municipal, regional and school board boundaries
and maps?
When are events, such as all-candidates meetings, scheduled in
your community?
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How are citizens currently informed about their local
municipal elections?
Newspaper advertisements
Media coverage
Municipal websites
What might Chief Elections Ofcers want to know from
citizens?
Have citizens registered to vote?

Are communications reaching citizens?
What issues and/or events are resonating with voters?
Have voters expressed concerns regarding the execution of the
elections?
Are the elections regulations being followed?
Are there accessibility or other challenges unique to your region
that must be addressed?
Where do citizens direct questions or
complaints?
YOU the Chief Elections Ofcer
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Do citizens really
want to know whats
happening?
When government and industry consultation professionals were
asked how strongly they agreed that there is an element of apathy
or negativity among citizens towards public engagement today, they
indicated:
When asked what was required in todays consultative and
engagement practices, these same professionals indicated:
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Is there a better way
to support democratic
engagement?
Unlike federal and provincial elections, citizens do not have a single
non-partisan forum for community engagement and information
sharing.
During elections, citizens can beneft
from engagement that:
Supports a forum for interacting with
voters and election ofcials
Encourages respectful dialogue
Centralizes information sources
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Provides a two-way exchange of information and questions
Is responsive and transparent
Protects personal information
Engages citizens from a shared geographical location in dialogue
Are there any
solutions out there?
Apparently yes. One of the most powerful forces driving community
engagement forward is the rapid, ongoing development of technology
to facilitate and support interactions, with software applications such
as PlaceSpeak.
Creating an online community of citizens resident in your municipal,
regional or school district allows for an exchange of ideas, questions
and information that is relevant, timely and accurate.
It gives citizens the freedom to choose where and how to engage,
allows governments to plug into a broad spectrum of perspectives
across multiple locations, and even contribute to saving costs as
citizens dont have to commute to meetings and governments.
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Online solutions ofer opportunities for citizens to engage in
ways that are:
Accessible they can interact when and where it is convenient for
them
Cost-efective technology solutions save time and money to
reach the broadest community
Transparent they can see the full range of perspectives and
issues
Interactive they can engage in real time with fellow citizens and
election ofcials
Accurate election ofcials can ensure that information refects
local conditions and issues in a timely and culturally appropriate
manner
Non-partisan election ofcials can create a community forum
that improves the election experience, while encouraging public
dialogue about issues that matter in your community
Reliable citizens and election ofcials need to know that they
are hearing from local voters and not from those from outside
jurisdictions
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What makes good
online public
engagement?
Trust and Privacy
Citizens need to know that their
personal information will be used only
for election purposes. It will not be sold,
shared with candidates, or distributed
inappropriately.
Citizens must be accountable and responsible for their expressions,
but should have the option of remaining anonymous if they wish.
Its only part of the story
Online engagement allows for a robust and immediate exchange of
perspectives and information.
But not all citizens have equal access.
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First Nations communities, for instance, have varying degree of
access to broadband Internet service throughout the province and
cultural dynamics that infuence their capacity to engage online.
According to the BC Ministry of Labour, Citizens Services and Open
Government, 33 First Nations were not expected to have broadband
access by the end of 2012, while 170 or 84% were expected to have
access.
Ministry of Labour, Citizens Services and Open Government, 2011
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According to Statistics Canada, the adoption of Internet use by
Canadians varies. We need to be sensitive to demographic groups,
which may have slower or no rates of technology adoption, when
contemplating the use of technology solutions.
Statistics Canada, 2012
Candidates
Some of the most important information CEOs will
share with citizens will be the names of candidates
approved to seek elected ofce in their community.
For the frst time, local candidates will be subject to
campaign fnancing regulations by Elections BC.
Creating a central source for information and
opportunities to ask questions for citizens and
candidates will be important to ensure fair access
to complete and accurate information.
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Elections and the political debate they inspire are an important and
inevitable part of democracy.
The role of CEOs, however, is to ensure a fair and non-partisan
election process.
While it is critical that diferences of opinion be openly articulated, it is
equally critical that CEOs not be drawn into its epicenter.
In many communities, chambers of commerce, local media or
community groups will create forums for the open exchange of ideas
and opportunities for candidates to come together for community
engagement. In some communities, this may not be the case.
CEOs may wish to consider what role, if any, their ofce can play
to create opportunities for an open and non-partisan expression of
ideas. Online engagement ofers a transparent and accessible forum
for the exchange of ideas amongst citizens within their community.
Elections and politics
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Sustaining online
engagement
Keeping online engagement robust
can be both exciting and challenging.
The needs of each local community
vary considerably and municipal,
regional and school board elections
are important opportunities to
demonstrate shared interests about
principles and values of culture,
politics, economy and community.
CEOs have a unique opportunity to build relationships and
engagement through schools, libraries, business associations,
community groups, sports teams, senior centres and other groups.
These relationships can be enriched with new opportunities to
interact during the election process.
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Strategy
As each of you prepare for the upcoming municipal elections,
engaging voters is a shared challenge. Developing a strategy that
maximizes new and old solutions to inspire and support increased
electoral participation could have profound impacts on your
community.
As you contemplate the right mix of information sharing, engagement
and execution, consider the tools that can make a meaningful
diference.
By engaging and supporting citizens through these important
democratic processes, society benefts. It builds a foundation for
future engagement and sets the stage for future generations.
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If you would like information about PlaceSpeak and how it might
support your election management efforts, please contact:
Michelle Aucoin
Email: michelle.aucoin@placespeak.com
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Next steps
As you contemplate next steps for your
community in the next municipal, regional
and school board elections, check out
PlaceSpeak as one option to engage your
community, increase vote participation and
awareness, and build citizen capacity to
contribute to their community.