Mak­ing an ar­gu­ment for mul­ti­ple votes

The Compass - - OPINION - — Bill West­cott, orig­i­nally from St. John’s, writes from Clarke’s Beach

My wife and I are the own­ers of two properties. We have a prop­erty in St.John’s — the place of our birth and where we lived, were ed­u­cated and worked for over 30 years, and we live in our re­tire­ment prop­erty in the town of Clarke’s Beach. We pay mu­nic­i­pal taxes in both ar­eas. In St. John’s our taxes are dou­ble what we pay to the town of Clarke’s Beach.

To­day I called City Hall, St. John’s, re­quest­ing bal­lots to be mailed to our ad­dress in Clarke’s Beach so we can vote in the Sept. 24th City of St. John’s 2013 elec­tion — by mail­ing them in.

I was in­formed by the elec­tions co-or­di­na­tor that my wife and I are in­el­i­gi­ble to vote in St. John’s. I was also in­formed that this rule was not a City of St. John’s rule but one is­sued years ago by the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, Govern­ment of New­found­land and Labrador, who in­forces the Elec­tions Act.

I checked the govern­ment rules per­tain­ing to mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions and found the fol­low­ing di­rec­tives: Un­der PART 2 VOT­ERS LIST, it is spelled out: Sec­tion (5) “A per­son shall not vote in more than one mu­nic­i­pal­ity on elec­tion day. In ad­di­tion the fol­low­ing direc­tive is writ­ten, in SEC­TION 24 AR­TI­CLE (A). A per­son shall be a res­i­dent of the place where he or she lives and sleeps and to which, when ab­sent, he or she in­tends to re­turn.”

I think that is an an­ti­quated rule that needs to be changed. My ar­gu­ment is: if we pay City of St. John’s taxes (in our case thou­sands of dollars) we should be per­mit­ted to vote there. We are on the tax roll as res­i­dent-own­ers in good stand­ing and the same is true for our res­i­dency qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the Town of Clarke’s Beach, where we also pay fairly high taxes, and where, ac­cord­ing to the rules ,we are per­mit­ted to vote.

In my per­sonal opin­ion, if one has a “vested in­ter­est” in a city or town, then that vested ( fi­nan­cial) in­ter­est is im­por­tant to that par­tic­u­lar city or town. The af­fairs of the elected coun­cils of both St. John’s and Clarke’s Beach log­i­cally are our af­fairs and rightly so. It’s a two-way street (no pun in­tended). A vote in both mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties should be al­lowed.

One could ask the ques­tion; “if I don’t have a right to vote in St. John’s, how can I com­plain about a coun­cil pol­icy or a pro­posed leg­is­la­tion which I dis­agree with and which could af­fect the value of my prop­erty?” The log­i­cal an­swer from the City of St. John’s is “YOU CAN’T.” Mean­ing, I am “per­sona non grata,” in other words “not wel­come” to ex­press my opin­ion as far as the 2013 elec­tion, or for that mat­ter, any fu­ture mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions are con­cerned.

Of course, as I said ear­lier, I was po­litely re­minded by the City of St.John’s elec­tions co-or­di­na­tor, and rightly so, that this is NOT a City of St. John’s rule, but a provin­cial govern­ment rule.

It’s high time to have a look at this direc­tive, I sug­gest, to all our can­di­dates for coun­cil. It would make for an in­ter­est­ing ar­gu­ment with the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, no doubt.

Can­di­dates should also con­sider the num­ber of votes he/she are miss­ing out on. There are hun­dreds of pos­si­ble Xs await­ing from vot­ers like us in towns and com­mu­ni­ties like the one we cur­rently live in. Peo­ple with vested in­ter­ests in both com­mu­ni­ties with their ma­jor in­vest­ment be­ing in the City of St. John’s.

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