Elections Nunavut’s greatest challenge during the week candidates declared Sept. 25 to 29 was educating some would-be candidates on the importance of what might seem to be a daunting process.
“We recognize that the declaration of candidacy takes time and effort on the part of all the prospective candidates and their financial agent. So one of the challenges that we faced is conveying the idea that the process was necessary to follow the Nunavut Elections Act,” chief electoral officer Dustin Fredlund told Nunavut News.
“It reflects the significance of the position the candidates are seeking. So just having people understand why they have to have all the paperwork filled out and why they require certain signatures. Why they require $200.”
With three less candidates than in 2013, 2017’s territorial election is so far shaping up to be similar to the last. In 2013 – 75 candidates ran and two were acclaimed, as compared to 72 candidates and one acclamation this election.
However, chief electoral officer Dustin Fredlund said Elections Nunavut did have to turn candidates away.
“There are strict rules and deadlines for declaration. If a prospective candidate failed to file before the 2:00 p.m. deadline, with all the correct information provided, the returning officer could not accept the declaration,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that some prospective candidates waited to file and submit all the required information after the deadline. There were a number of prospective candidates who did wait to the last minute, and were accepted. But, yes, there were quite a few who waited until the 11th hour.”
That number of would-be candidates who were turned away wasn’t available last week, but will be in Elections Nunavut’s report to the Legislative Assembly.
Elections Nunavut hasn’t received any complaints regarding election laws stemming from declaration week. The RCMP are ultimately responsible for investigating complaints, and also reported receiving none.
“If anyone does have a complaint, we encourage them to obtain a citizen complaint form from our website, or contact us directly and we can provide them one, and to speak with a local RCMP member,” said Fredlund.
Partnerships target youth population
Internet and social-media use has already differed markedly this election. Traffic to the Elections Nunavut website and social media sites on Facebook and Twitter increased threefold.
“We won’t take full credit for that, but I think we can attribute this increased traffic to more people having access and participating through social media. Also, prospective candidates themselves increased their engagement with the public through these platforms,” said Fredlund.
Elections Nunavut is also focusing on youth by partnering with the Government of Nunavut and CIVIX, a non-partisan, national registered charity dedicated to building the skills and habits of active and engaged citizenship among young Canadians.
“With the Government of Nunavut, we have students under the voting age working with us during the general election,” said Fredlund.
“We received a number of quality applications from students and we’re very pleased that young Nunavummiut are interested in engaging in the democratic process.”
Through CIVIX, a parallel election will take place in 19 Nunavut schools.
“They’re providing civic educational resources and hosting votes in these schools,” said Fredlund.
“So high school students will actually be able to have a mock election. It’s a first time for our territory and we’re happy to have 50 per cent of all the schools interested in participating and ensuring our youth are engaged and have an opportunity to see what the process is like, how voting is like, how the campaign process works.”
Fredlund adds the youth demographic voter turnout in Nunavut – age 18 to 25 – is very low as compared to the elder generation, even though youth are a significant portion of the territory’s population.
“This is something we’re trying to target with some of these initiatives, and hopefully have them thinking about participating, exercising their civic duty and democratic right to vote before they turn voting age so they have that exposure,” he said.
“It’s beneficial to the process and the territory.”
Oct. 16 to 26: early voting in larger communities with an office of returning officer
Oct. 23: mobile poll in the morning, advance voting for smaller communities without an office of returning officers in the afternoon
Oct. 30: general election
source: Elections Nunavut
How to vote:
- Special ballot for students and others who are out of territory: contact Elections Nunavut to apply
- Mobile poll where Elections Nunavut go to the homes of disabled or elderly voters: contact returning officer, assistant returning officer or Elections Nunavut
- Advance voting
- Regular poll
*If none of these options is possible, contact Elections Nunavut
source: Elections Nunavut