Langley chamber vice-president Paul van Koll.

LANGLEY CHAMBER: Online voting expected to raise voters’ voices

Chamber ramping up efforts ahead of 2018 municipal election.

By Bob Groeneveld/Special to the Langley Advance

When the community doesn’t get fully involved in elections, it’s bad for business.

That’s the thinking behind the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce’s “Your Vote – Your Voice” campaign.

It’s also driving the chamber’s push to add the internet to the polling places where Langley residents can cast their ballots.

Voter turnouts in Langley’s municipal elections has been poor, often around 30 per cent in the Township and under 25 per cent in Langley City, said chamber vice-president Paul van Koll.

“It means there’s a very specific population determining the municipal direction for the future,” he pointed out.

That translates to a risk that local government policies may be “biased by minority views,” according to a BC Chamber of Commerce policy statement that the Langley chamber helped draft.

Ironically, the statement notes that low voter turnouts tend to increase voter apathy, as “voters feel less ability to influence public policy.”

The local chamber is planning to fight that growing apathy with its Your Vote – Your Voice campaign, which will include all-candidates meetings, leadership luncheons, and other avenues to create awareness among potential voters as this year’s municipal election campaigns get underway for the Oct. 20 voting.

“If you want to drill it down to the most basic level,” said van Koll, “it’s to get more people out to vote.”

Their goal this year is a modest five per cent increase in turnout to the polls.

“Obviously, we’d like more,” he said, “but you want to start with a manageable number, a goal that’s attainable, and then hopefully we get another five per cent the next time.”

However, online voting could have a large impact on voting numbers, van Koll explained.

“I think if we can get the online voting going, we’d jump just from the convenience factor.”

Largely with Langley’s prodding, the BC Chamber’s policy promotes online voting for all elections – municipal, provincial, and federal. But, van Koll thinks it “probably makes more sense” to start with the municipal in Langley.

“We do know that there are some perceived risks involved with it,” he said. However, about a quarter of Ontario municipalities used online voting (in 2014), “so we do have a bit of a tested market there.”

There were modest increases in most Ontario municipalities that took their elections online.

“This policy really comes from us trying to reduce the red tape and make it easier for people in Langley, first because we’re the Langley chamber, but also B.C. as a whole, if we can get some kind of an online voter system running,” explained van Koll.

It is Chamber of Commerce week Feb. 19 to 23, and the Langley Advance is helping celebrate by offering a number of stories about this business organization in Langley that is 1,000 members strong.

READ: Widen the freeway now, Langley chamber insists (WITH VIDEO)

READ: Langley chamber ‘not opposed’ to minimum wage increase

Just Posted

Stealth struggles lead to coaching shuffle

New assistant coaches in charge of offence and defence for Vancouver

Langley police release suspect photos

Alleged criminals caught on camera

Langley curling couple bound for provincials in Creston

Craig and Karen Lepine are skipping their own teams in the upcoming BC masters curling competition.

Langley Hospice issues formal statement opposing MAiD directive

Board of directors responds to ‘groundswell of opposition’ from community and volunteers

Aldergrove family first in B.C. to receive reimbursement for life-altering arthritis drug

Effective medication used to treat rare form of juvenile arthritis costs $19,000 a month

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

5 to start your day

A B.C. teacher suspended for using the N-word, icy roads snarl traffic and more

Canadian support split on Trans Mountain pipeline debate: Poll

Angus Reid poll surveying Canadians on pipeline stance finds no clear winner

Tired of ‘big city life’? One-stoplight town hosts contest to lure in city slickers

Contest by BC Rural Centre hopes to attract city folks to a small town in the Kootenays

Student protest outside White House a snapshot of American gun debate

Demonstrators take part in a student protest for gun control legislation in front of the White House

Feds can’t do much to fight fake news in Canada

Federal government can’t do much to fight fake news: Canadian Heritage documents

Canada’s Boutin wins silver in women’s 1,000 short track

Women’s 1,000-metre short-track speedskater Kim Boutin wins silver the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Thursday

Ry Cooder coming to Vancouver Island MusicFest

American music icon to play in Comox Valley July 14

Team USA beats Canada 3-2 on the shootout to take home Olympic gold

Americans win their first gold medal since 1998

Most Read