Carin Bondar announced Nov. 26 that she will be running in the upcoming byelection to replace outgoing school trustee Dan Coulter. (Sarah Sovereign Photography)

Chilliwack school board candidate Carin Bondar calls for vote-by-mail option

As the COVID pandemic continues, Bondar fears voter turnout will be low for next month's byelection

Chilliwack School Board candidate Carin Bondar wants voters to be able to cast a ballot by mail in next month’s byelection.

The candidate expressed disappointment that no such option exists during the pandemic, when people are being asked to stay home and avoid gatherings. Bondar suggested that due to COVID, voter turnout for the Feb. 13 byelection could be lower than the already-low historical turnout for school board elections.

RELATED: Voter turnout low as Coulter wins school board byelection

“A mail-in ballot option is a safest way for residents of Chilliwack and the surrounding electoral districts to vote during the pandemic and has been demonstrated to be an effective tool to support voter engagement,” Bondar noted in a news release. “This is such an important byelection and we should be doing everything we can to provide safe opportunities to cast a ballot during a pandemic.”

The last time a school board byelection was held in Chilliwack, only 2.3 per cent of approximately 64,000 eligible voters cast a ballot. Dan Coulter received just 520 votes, but that was more than enough to beat Harold Schmidt (339 votes), Bev Besler (279 votes) Karen Jarvis (238 votes), Cory Neyrinck (54 votes) and Rob Stelmaschuk (23 votes).

RELATED: School trustee byelection candidates finding ways to meet the public during pandemic

Bondar expects a more motivated electorate in this byelection as she runs against Richard Procee, Adam Suleman and Brian VanGarderen.

“Explore early voting options and make a plan to vote,” she urged. “Every vote will count in this election and by planning ahead, and considering early voting options there are opportunities to vote, and to do so safely.”

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