If you visit Joyce Mitchell’s home on November 19, you can walk right into her kitchen but don’t expect the normal hospitality.
“We’d love to serve coffee and muffins but it’s not allowed,” says Mrs. Mitchell who has one of the Area ‘A’ polling stations in her kitchen.
“The rules state they come in, vote, and then leave. We can exchange pleasantries but there can’t be any socializing or real conversation.”
For voting day Mrs. Mitchell says she clears out the kitchen and sets up the registration table and private voting booth. Her home is wheelchair accessible and there are even ways for them to accommodate voters who are even less mobile.
“If someone can’t get out of their vehicle, we take the book to them. We lock the doors and we can go to the vehicle.”
Besides the Mitchell house in Moberly, there is another polling station at a private residence, the Titus home in Donald.
“I have the polling station in my basement,” says Joan Titus. “I grow tomatoes in the basement so I move them off the table, wipe off the dust and away we go.”
Both ladies have served as election officials for a number of years and they say it’s important to have polling stations accessible to local residents.
“For the elderly who don’t have access to a vehicle, it’s easier to bring them to my house, or if it’s in Donald, to the Titus house, than to drive to town,” says Mrs. Mitchell.
“I like the idea of having it here,” says Mrs. Titus, “because you don’t have to go to town about 30 kilometres away. You get a better turnout if they’re driving by and remember they have to vote.”
There are also three other polling stations for residents of Area ‘A.’ Electors can go to the Golden Rec Plex, Field Elementary School or Nicholson Elementary.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District Chief Election Officer Carolyn Black says it’s important to make voting as convenient as possible for all the residents.
“There are no rules about the number of polling stations we have to have, but we have them in the various areas so that no one has to go too far.”
The Chief Election Officer says voting in a general election is different than the federal or provincial elections because there is no voter’s card or official voter’s list. “Because we don’t have these, people have to bring in two pieces of identification and one of those has to have proof of residency – which means it has to have the voter’s name attached to a local address.”
Some of the acceptable identification includes: BC driver’s license, property tax notice, ICBC vehicle insurance documents, social insurance card, BC identification card, credit card, BC CareCard or Gold CareCard, utility bill, or citizenship card.
“In rural areas, even when the election officials know the voters, they are still required to ask for two pieces of ID.”
Both Mrs. Mitchell and Mrs. Titus are hoping for a good voter turnout this election. Mrs. Titus says she does her bit to remind her neighbours of their civic duty.
“I phone everyone and say, ‘You’ve got to vote.’ I tell them, ‘I don’t care who you vote for, but you have to come out and vote.”
There will be an opportunity for advanced voting on Wednesday, November 9 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at council chambers in Golden Town Hall or at the Columbia Shuswap Regional District Office at 781 Marine Park Drive NE in Salmon Arm.
For more information call the CSRD office at 250-832-8194 or toll free at 1-888-248-CSRD (2773) or visit the CSRD website at www.csrd.bc.ca.