Quatsino First Nation members are headed to the polls on Friday for the second time this year. The original election for chief and the five councillors was held in September, but mail-in ballots were mistakenly returned to sender due to an error at the post office.
Electoral Officer Marcus Hadley decided with Quatsino Council and Indigenous Services Canada that the best way to remedy the error was to hold an entirely new election. About a third of Quatsino members were sent mail-in voting packages.
Polls are open at the Quatsino gym from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 4 for in-person voting, with precautions taken for COVID-19 safety.
The current leaders of the northern Vancouver Island nation are Chief James Nelson and Councillors Patricia (Speck) Hall, Percy Nelson Sr., James Wallas, Richard Nelson and Dawn Willie.
Willie was nominated to run for chief and councillor positions, but has since withdrawn her name, along with Nelson Sr. who was nominated to run for councillor, but has withdrawn his name. Chief Nelson and councillors Hall, Wallas and Richard Nelson are running again. Five people are running for chief, and 20 people running for the five councillor positions. The candidates were confirmed in a meeting in October.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the ballots will be counted on a Zoom-broadcast video after the polls close, offering a unique opportunity for more participation, Hadley said. Typically the ballot counting would be open for people to view, so the online format is a safe and transparent alternative to meeting in person.
COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into many other First Nations elections that Hadley is the electoral officer for. He said the last six months have been an incredible learning curve, but said it does provide an opportunity for greater participation.
“I’m interested in leveraging the technology to make things more transparent and more engaged,” he said.
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