Top tips for smart voters

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General municipal elections are held every four years on the fourth Wednesday of October, except in Manitoba’s resort communities (Winnipeg Beach, Dunnotar and Victoria Beach), where they are held on the fourth Friday in July. The last one was in October 2018.

Municipal elections are a great opportunity for all of us to take part in building the city. By choosing municipal leaders wisely, we can contribute in ensuring that will have a better and more progressive future.

If you are a first time voter, here are five steps you can undertake so you’ll be prepared:

Check your eligibility

First off, see if you are eligible to vote. You can be a resident or non-resident voter (someone who left temporarily) as long as you meet the following requirements:

  • Canadian citizen
  • At least 18 years old on Election Day
  • A resident of the municipality for at least six months before Election Day

To vote in school division elections, you must be a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old and a resident of the school division for at least six months.

Eligible voters are placed on a Voters List. If you want to check if you are on the list, you want your name to be added, or have any information that you want to be corrected on the Voters List, you may contact 311 or write to the City Clerk’s Department. But even if you are not on the list (but eligible to vote), you may still register to vote on Election Day. You just need to bring photo identification with you. You will also be required to take an Oath before voting. To know which voting station to go to, wait for the Voter’s Notice from the Senior Election Official. It will contain the date, time, and place where you can vote. You will receive this notice by mail. You can also find a list of locations of voting places in the local newspaper in early October. You don’t need the Voter’s Notice to vote. If you don’t receive a notice but are eligible to vote, contact your local municipal office for information.

Municipal elections are a great opportunity for all of us to take part in building the city. By choosing municipal leaders wisely, we can contribute in ensuring that will have a better and more progressive future.

Know the candidates

Elected municipal officials have a four-year term. Four years is ample time to enact significant changes and get things done in your municipality, so choose your mayor and councillors wisely. Learn about the qualifications of the candidates and their election platform or plan of action if elected. Their track records are good indicators of their values and leadership abilities.

As seen from past elections, September is the peak of the campaign season. You will be able to find more information about the candidates in various media. However, you may hear about the mayoral hopefuls in the news as early as May, since May 1st is usually the start of registration for candidacy. Take advantage of this period to know what the candidates stand for, advocate, and intend to accomplish should they be elected. It will help you make an informed decision. Debates are also held in various venues (sponsored by community groups or at a media outlet). Watch the Winnipeg mayoral debate 2018 held at CBC Manitoba as they talk about the top three issues in the city – crime and security, repair of roads and bridges (transportation), and a vision of the city’s future:

Individuals may support a candidate by contributing funds to the campaign or acting as a scrutineer. Individuals can contribute up to a maximum of $1,500 to a candidate for Mayor and up to $750 for a Councillor. A scrutineer is a representative of the candidate who is appointed to observe election proceedings.

  • What do Mayors and Councillors do?

    There are around 15 mayors in Manitoba representing each municipality. Each ward (see this map as an example: Electoral wards in Winnipeg) in a municipality is represented by a Councillor. Elected officials (mayors and councillors) are required to attend regular meetings twice a month as well as attend special meetings, committee and board meetings, various public meetings and functions.

    More importantly, elected officials form the team that develops and evaluates programs and policies for the municipality. They hold crucial positions because they have a direct hand in ensuring that services are delivered to their constituents efficiently. They also decide and prioritize which programs and projects are implemented depending on their respective area’s needs.

Know how to vote

Did you know that there are other ways to vote aside from going to the polling station on Election Day?

  • Advance voting – if you will not be in Manitoba on Election Day, you can avail of advance voting. The Senior Election Official will publicly announce a date for this, which can be anywhere between the date when the ballots are printed up until 48 hours before Election Day. Contact your local municipal office if you want to vote in advance.
  • Sealed Envelope Ballot – You can apply to vote by mail, fax or in-person if you are unable to go to the voting location or if you are not available on Election Day or the designated advance voting day. Once approved, you will receive a Sealed Envelope Ballot Package. You can return the accomplished ballot on or before the stated deadline.

On Election Day

Voting stations will be open from 8:00 am until 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Don’t forget to bring identification with you when you vote. One option is to bring one photo ID with your name and address. It must be a government-issued ID, for example your Driver’s Licence. If you don’t have a photo ID, you can bring two original IDs that show your name and current address. You can bring any two from this list:

  • Manitoba Health Services card
  • Manitoba Blue Cross card
  • a blank personalized check
  • a credit card statement
  • an Old Age Pension/Security card
  • an Income Tax Assessment statement
  • a utility bill
  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marking your ballot

    Each voter is given a paper ballot containing the candidates’ names. To mark your choices, you will need to fill in the circle next to the candidate’s name using a special pen provided in the voting compartment. To see a sample ballot, go to this page: Marking the ballot. If you cannot use the special pen, a ballot marking device may be made available to you. Braille templates and large print listings of candidates are available as well. Ask the Election Officer for assistance if you need help. You may also opt to have a companion when voting.

    If you accidentally spoil your ballot paper, you may request another one from the voting official. You have to return the spoiled ballot, which the official will have to mark spoiled. It will be placed in a special envelope for spoiled ballots.

    After you have made your choices, you need to place your ballot in a secrecy sleeve. The Election Official will insert it into the voting machine. The machine will scan it if it is valid. A ballot is not valid if there are too many candidates chosen or if you left it blank. When this happens, the voter is given the chance to vote again. On the other hand, if the ballot is valid, the machine will count your vote.

Because the system of validating and counting the votes is automated, the winning candidates are known the same day. Election results are reported by the Senior Election Official within approximately 120 minutes from the close of voting.

Sources: Information for voters and FAQ, Retrieved May 30, 2018.

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Community Resources

Interested in running for office? Find out what the requirements and other details in the 2018 Candidates Guidebook by the Manitoba Municipal Relations or the 2018 Civic Elections Candidate’s Guide (Winnipeg).

Interested in working as an Election Officer? Go to Employment – Work as an Election Officer.

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