News

'Voter grant' turned down

What would it take to increase voter turnout? Perhaps a financial inducement would do the trick.

Noting the poor turnout in the recent byelection for a single seat on the Langley board of education, Township Councillor Kim Richter suggested a financial incentive in the form of a “voter recognition grant.”

The grant would be equivalent to the average property tax payment in the Township, and be awarded in a random draw of voters who submit a coupon proving they had voted.

But on Monday, Richter’s motion was defeated, as was a motion to defer her suggestion to staff for a legal opinion.

Richter said that giving a grant would require legislative change as under current law, paying someone for voting is illegal.

“I don’t think we should turn elections into a lottery,” Councillor Bob Long said.

Councillor Bev Dornan, agreeing that the 3.8 per cent voter turnout in the recent byelection was “abysmal,” said that the importance of voting begins with educating children that voting is a right that is not enjoyed by many people in the world.

Richter said that in order to win the grant, a voter would not have to own property. The winner, whether for example a renter or student living at home, would win the equivalent of the average property tax.

“It’s time for us to think outside the box,” she said.

The recent byelection, which was for a single school trustee position, attracted 2,675 of the 70,345 residents who were eligible to cast ballots. That makes the per-voter cost very expensive, Richter said.

The election is reported to have cost $75,000, which the Langley school district will pay.

“The cost of an election is fixed, so it only makes sense to get more people out to vote to offset the fixed cost,” Richter said.

“I’m not a believer in forcing people to vote. I think voting should be an act of choice but I am a believer in encouraging people to get out to vote,” Richter said.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Culture in schools is still a problem, says former Langley student who was bullied
 
Charleston development goes from highrise to five-storey condo complex
 
Froese to Watts: time to act on 72 Avenue intersection
Security stepped up in B.C. after attacks in Ottawa
 
Lockdown at research station in Agassiz following Ottawa shooting
 
VIDEO: Christmas Greetings from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Wire theft shuts down phones
 
Surrey and North Delta MPs safe but remain under lockdown following Ottawa shooting
 
Scholarship established in honour of Surrey athlete killed in crash

Community Events, October 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 21 edition online now. Browse the archives.