Castlegar city council has passed a resolution to join the Community Voters Challenge. “The City of Castlegar looks forward to joining in this worthwhile initiative to increase awareness and ultimately increase voter turnout during the upcoming Federal Election,” said Mayor Lawrence Chernoff in a statement.
The Community Voters Challenge is a citizens’ initiative intended to increase voter turnout for the federal election to be held on October 19, 2015. The goal is to foster community spirit and democratic involvement through creative and imaginative ways.
So far Castlegar, Nelson, Fernie, Nakusp, Kaslo, Grand Forks and Regional District of Central Kootenay Areas D, E and F have joined the challenge and organizers expect to add more communities to the list soon.
Basically, the organizers will calculate the percentage of voter turnout for each participating community and compare it to the turnout from the 2011 federal election. The community that shows the largest increase wins. For the purposes of this contest, Castlegar had a turnout of 59%, a figure calculated using stats from regular and advance voting polls.
The idea is truly a grassroots nonpartisan one conceived by a group of Nelson citizens, and then brought to fruition by city and district councils and community groups. Organizer Mike Chapman said the idea was to instill some enthusiasm and excitement around the electoral process. “When people vote they feel empowered, which then empowers the entire community,” said Chapman.
To support the challenge, the Castlegar and District Library in partnership with the City of Castlegar has put in place a plan to assist with voter registration. Councillor Deb Macintosh, who raised the idea at the September 8 city council meeting said, “The turnout for the last federal election was 59%. Come on Castlegar, we can do better than that! We want everyone’s voice to be heard. We are partnering with the Library since it’s a hub in our community.”
The Library will be providing dedicated computers for people to register to vote, as well as one-on-one assistance from staff and volunteers,” said Library Director Heather Maisel. “For those who are ineligible to register online, we are offering our phone, copier, printing and fax or mailing to help get them registered.”
Assistance will be available at the library from September 21through October 10 on Mondays from 3-5 p.m., Tuesdays 5-8 p.m., Wednesdays 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Thursdays 2-5 p.m. and Saturdays 2-4 p.m. The schedule is posted on the library’s website. No appointment is necessary just bring your driver’s license or other ID showing your address. In addition, Elections Canada will be sending two representatives to the Library on September 30 from noon until 7 p.m. to register people to vote.