Acclamation is how some elections are decided. That’s when the exact number of declared candidates matches the number of seats available on a School Board, Town Council or similar governing body. In actual fact, when an election is won by acclamation, there is no election. That is to say, no one casts ballots to choose the candidates they would most like to see fill the available seats.
In the time I have lived in Princeton I have seen more than one local government board decided by acclamation. Sometimes it isn’t a bad thing when you look at it as a taxpayer because elections are costly events to host. However, as taxpayers, we also want to have some input into who makes the decisions for us in our local government and the only way we get to do that is during a municipal election.
How To Eliminate Acclamation In Local Elections
Assuming that local taxpayers are happy or not happy with their local government representatives, they get an opportunity to ‘pick’ those they want on Town Council once every four years. It happens to be a provincial guideline spelled out in great detail in the Local Government Act. Previous to the last municipal election in 2014, we went to the polling station once every three years. That’s one extra election every 12 years when you compare the three year and four year cycles.
But in order for you to ‘pick’ your elected officials, you need to know who the candidates are. In Canada, we have a very different approach to elections as opposed to our friends in the United States. Election campaigns over the border appear to go on for years – which is not too far from the truth. In British Columbia municipal elections, the campaign period is several months but the actual nomination period is much shorter.
This is probably why you rarely hear anything other than rumours about who is planning on seeking election in the local races (Town Council and School Board). In fact, the nomination package does not become available from Town Hall until July 27. So, if you think you’ll find out who all is running by the end of next month, you’d be wrong. In fact, you won’t know officially until quite some time after that.
The Nomination Period
The Local Government Act – and I keep referencing this to show you that these dates are not something tossed together and put in place unique to Princeton – has a complete schedule of the dates when each and every step must take place leading up to the October 20 municipal election. So, with that data, the Nomination Period runs from September 4 to September 14, 2018. That gives those of us who have paid the $100 deposit and picked up a nomination package at Town Hall anytime after 9:00 AM July 27 time to figure out if we really want to do this or not.
When Do You Hear Who The Candidates Are?
Once all the completed nomination packages are received at Town Hall between September 4 and 14, they probably have to verify signatures, addresses and confirm if the candidates who submitted paperwork are in fact eligible to seek a seat in municipal government. I’m just guessing at that part but I’m sure there is some sort of filtering system that all the paperwork goes through before anything official is announced.
Here’s when you find out who the candidates are: 4:00 PM on September 14, 2018.
Aren’t There Candidates Already?
Well, that gets a yes and no answer. Using myself as an example…I ‘declared’ myself as a candidate at 12:01 AM on January 1, 2018. That was the official start of the election campaign for the October 20 municipal election. However, I won’t really become a candidate until I am officially declared at 4:00 PM on September 14.
So, technically speaking, myself and one other person who publicly ‘declared’ themselves as a candidate a week after I did, are not officially candidates right now. The reason why I announced so early was to give myself some early traction going into this election. Typically, candidates wait until the nomination period and you never know who or how many candidates there are until the official declaration is made. This is sometimes why we end up with elections decided by acclamation. No one knows if enough candidates have stepped forward.
I should clarify that last statement. No one in the general public knows if enough candidates have filled paperwork before the deadline. So if I have a message in here at all, it is to those of you considering seeking a seat on your local government. Do not wait until the twelfth hour to make an announcement. If you announce soon, you will give local electors a choice to consider long before they have to wait for the nomination period to end.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.