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

Developers to unveil plan to transform Aldergrove mall into new town centre

Community to find out new Aldergrove Town Centre plan for dormant 10-acre lot in heart of downtown.

Tardi and team playoff bound in junior curling worlds tonight

Friday night Team Canada’s men’s team faces off against Norway, hoping to secure a spot in the finals

Langley’s Hong takes silver in Winter Games vault

The Langley athlete completed a tricky move in competition to clinch the podium.

First phase of 208th widening in Langley Township budget

Work could star this year, if the council approves the first project.

Injured nurse back in the saddle after horse riding accident

Keya Milaire has been recovering from an accident that occurred on May 24.

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read