Municipal Affairs Minister Wes Sheridan says voter turnout was up Monday night in the municipal elections that were held across the province.
Concrete numbers aren’t available since it’s difficult to measure turnout across the board although one town, Borden-Carleton, was reporting turnout around 61 per cent.
“We’re hearing, anecdotally, that there was an increase in voter turnout in some of the towns. That’s great news,’’ Sheridan told The Guardian on Tuesday.
Elections were held in every municipality except Charlottetown, Summerside, Cornwall, Stratford and the Resort Municipality of Cavendish. Residents in those areas don’t vote again until 2014.
2014 also signals the first time every single municipality across P.E.I. votes on the same day. Elections held Monday night will be for two-year terms, bringing those municipalities in line with the big four and Cavendish.
“We wanted to increase the profile of our municipalities for this election and for the next election in 2014,’’ Sheridan said.
But, the election isn’t over just yet.
Voters in seven municipalities across the province — Breadalbane, Morell, Ellerslie, Alexandra, West River, St. Nicholas and St. Louis — will be going to the polls in approximately two weeks after the Department of Municipal Affairs pulled the plug on their elections Monday night.
In Breadalbane’s case, the incumbent chair of the community council died so the vote was postponed.
In the other six cases, communities failed to get the word out as it is laid out in the Municipalities Act. They must run two separate advertisements in the newspaper, notifying residents of their special nomination meetings.
Samantha Murphy, manager of municipal affairs for the province, said all the municipalities were informed of the rules.
“We did have seven (municipalities) that were aware of that that didn’t hold the election meetings,’’ Murphy said.
Contrary to belief, Elections P.E.I. had no involvement in Monday’s elections, beyond staffing the Charlottetown office and fielding calls for advice.
Murphy said the municipalities are left to run their own show.
“We help municipalities through their elections but they are their elections.’’
In the past the province has run one large advertisement notifying residents of where and when their meetings will be held but the municipalities frowned on that.
“The concerns were that municipalities were not getting the profile they deserve through one large book ad.’’
So, municipalities were left to run their own ads, two of them.
“We notified them back in August, through a newsletter in September and we had our returning officer training in September. We went over this with them then. We did a lot to communicate with them in advance so municipalities understood.’’
Six of the seven which didn’t hold a vote Monday night missed running one or both of the required ads so now another vote has to be set up through the department, which will also handle any seats which weren’t filled.
Murphy advises people in those municipalities to watch for the advertisements. The elections should be held within the next two to three weeks.