October 19, 2017
For Immediate Release

Opposition Wins Major Improvements to ‘Special Ballot’ Election Bill

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “Our efforts this week in the House of Assembly were effective in persuading the Liberal government to bring forward several changes to their ‘special ballot’ election legislation, proving the point we were making that their original Bill was fundamentally flawed and required changes.”

“We were able to convince the government of the wisdom of making three changes:

  • that special ballot voters must be provided with a final list of nominated candidates in their districts so they are fully informed before they vote;
  • that nominations should not close in just five days, because that amount of time is too short for parties to complete nomination processes and people who want to run to get their affairs in order to make that happen;
  • that there should be a cap on the length of election campaigns, because it limits a ruling party’s ability to call an election campaign so early that it could catch other parties and unaffiliated candidates off guard,” said Davis.

“We were still concerned about the short time for nominations. The government gave some ground to increase the nomination period from the five days they initially proposed to eight days. We believe that period should be at least 10 days, and we moved a sub-amendment to push for that, but the Liberals voted against allowing 10 days for nominations to be completed,” said Davis. “Nevertheless, eight days is better than five, since it provides more time for people who want to run for elected office to get their affairs in order and step forward to run, and that’s healthier for democracy.”

“The Bill was not acceptable when it was brought to the House. We were right in pointing out the deficiencies and seeking improvements, particularly in light of Justice Gillian Butler’s ruling that voters’ rights must be respected. We are pleased that the caucuses were able to meet together outside regular House proceedings to get this Bill improved. This is exactly what we were calling for to begin with.”

-30-

Media Contact:
Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca