Did you know that the NWT is leading the country with a couple of innovative efforts that will inform and prepare electors to be ready, and enable participation in this fall’s Territorial General Election (TGE)?
It’s true. Elections NWT has received international recognition for electorhood.ca, an online elector engagement tool that is available to electors and residents who wish to access information and monitor the movement of the electoral event. In January, the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies recognized the website for outstanding achievement in the category of citizen engagement.
Electorhood.ca brings readily available sources of information together in a manner that is unique to an elector in their electoral district through a single portal. From early concept the underlying goal was to facilitate easy access to comprehensive information and to encourage elector preparedness leading up to the TGE.
The online platform was designed for very intuitive or easy user interaction. Users simply set up their account using the physical address of their primary residence and can then access information such as: who and where their returning officer is; in-depth candidate information; locate their polling station; find key dates; access their voter information card; make application for an absentee ballot; and review results on election night.
But the single most interesting provision of information will be a user’s ability to monitor real-time voter turnout to early voting opportunities. In past events, this movement was only known by election administrators and candidates and their official agents using a real-time struck list of electors. Therein lies the innovation no other electors in the country are afforded.
Another advancement for northern electors is the introduction of an additional option made available through the absentee poll. In previous electoral events, absentee ballots were issued to electors using the mail system. Historical data clearly indicated the ineffectiveness of having ballots travel great distances to electors and have them successfully returned in a timely manner; specifically, in time to be counted.
While traditional paper ballots will remain the status quo for administering the ballot for all polls for the fall election, the absentee poll will now be available through two means: the long-standing mail-in ballot; or by voting online. For registered electors the usual application period for absentee ballots will begin Aug. 19 until 2 p.m. on Sept. 21. PINs will not be issued to electors until Sept. 6, once a contest or an acclamation has been determined. Once an absentee ballot has been issued, an elector is struck from the register as having voted but may cast their ballot at their will any time before the close of polls at 8 p.m. on Oct.1.
The intention of the absentee ballot in an online format is to provide a mechanism that would ensure elector accessibility of the electoral process and make certain all cast ballots are counted. The platform will be of particular benefit to young electors away at post-secondary institutes, rotating mine workers, deployed military personnel or electors who find themselves away from their home community at election time. Additionally, electors in general may choose to engage with the online platform to cast their ballots as a means to participate while managing their work-life balance.
This is the second of an eight-week informational series from Elections NWT in News/North leading up to the Oct. 1 election. Next week’s focus will provide further detail on the absentee poll. Until then, visit electionsnwt.ca for any information you might need. And of course, go ahead create your account at electorhood.ca.