Notice of Referendum Vote to Change the Custom Rules Governing Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Elections

The word NEWS written in vintage wooden letterpress type in a wooden type drawer.

Per Section 34 of the Custom Rules Governing Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Elections, we wish to advise our members that a referendum vote to amend the Custom Rules will be held on October 23, 2018 at polling locations in each of our nine Wards, and at an advance poll to be held on October 16.  Amendment voting ballots will also be included in mail-out voting packages provided in the 2018 Qalipu general election.

A summary of the proposed changes can be found below in the Q & A

A full copy of the Custom Rules with amendments will be available to membership upon request at such time that the voters list has been finalized.  We expect to have this list by August 31, 2018.

Referendum Vote Q & A

Is Qalipu having a referendum vote to change the way it runs elections?

Yes.  To change the Custom Rules that govern our elections, the Council may direct that a referendum (amendment vote) be held to obtain the consent of membership.

Council has indicated that a referendum will occur in harmony with the 2018 election.  Meaning, with mail-in ballots, at the advance poll, and on polling day, membership will have an additional question included in their ballot package to change the way we administer elections.

The referendum will take place by advance poll on October 16 and at polling stations throughout the nine Wards on October 23, 2018.

Why does Qalipu want to change the way we do elections?

Following the election in 2015, Qalipu realized several issues that need to be resolved to make our elections more effective in the future.

  • Some voters reported arriving at their polling station to find that they had been incorrectly listed in a different voting location.
  • Others found that the distance they had to travel to their designated poll was unreasonable, which is not surprising considering Qalipu is made up of 67 geographically spread out communities in nine different Wards.
  • In some areas where there is a high concentration of voters, some voters were stuck waiting in line for several hours just to cast their vote.
  • Most people agreed that the time frame on returning mail-in ballots was too short. The 2015 election also saw a low voter turnout (approximately 23%) and this is something else that we can do better.
  • The polling station election format is expensive, time consuming and inaccessible.

 So, what election change will voters be asked to decide on?

Membership will be asked whether they are in favour of moving to a mail, telephone and internet voting solution.

What does that mean?

It means that every eligible voter will receive voting details in the mail without having to request it.  Voters will be given a personal identification number to cast their vote using either the internet, wireless devices and mobile or landline telephones.  A helpline would be available for anyone who has trouble with the process, and Qalipu is looking at making several polling stations available regionally to provide in-person support should voters feel they need to vote in person.

Why would we change to this way of voting?

There are many benefits to this voting method:

  • Every eligible voter will be engaged in the election. They will receive a Personal Identification Number and Voter Instruction Letter in the mail via Canada Post.
  • Voters will be given a 5-10-day period to vote from the comfort of their home via the internet, wireless devices OR mobile or landline telephones. Voters may also choose to visit one of several regional polling stations to receive in person voting support.
  • Voters will be provided with the contact number for a Voter HelpLine so that they have someone to contact if they have any trouble casting their vote.
  • Inclusion: ability for everyone to vote regardless of their mobility or location.
  • Automatic: voters will not have to request their ballot. All voters will receive everything they need to vote in the mail through Canada Post.
  • Greater participation: Since every voter will receive their voting details in the mail, and they can vote from the comfort of their own home, we expect a much higher engagement from our membership during election time.
  • Voting is private, secure and anonymous. PIN security and event auditability are paramount in the design and delivery of this voting solution which is delivered by an experienced and trusted company.
  • Financial savings. E-voting will cost less than half of our current method of voting, money that can be put back into community development, and cultural initiatives.
  • Results will be clear and timely.

Can we trust a company to deliver our election?

Intelivote Systems Inc. (ISI), the company with whom we have been working, is a recognized leader in the successful implementation of this type of election.  The company has extensive subject matter expertise in Union voting events, Municipal elections, Aboriginal voting events, Leadership Elections and Association Elections.

All the election services are provided through Intelivote software are secured by encryption, digital certificates and login IDs and passwords.

Voter anonymity, PIN security and event auditability are paramount in the design and delivery of the eVoting solutions they provide.

ISI maintains a hosted data centre environment in Halifax through Bell Canada, which also hosts some of the most sensitive government and financial applications running in Atlantic Canada.

ISI delivers elections with a team of information systems professionals and electronic voting experts.

Who will be eligible to vote to change the Custom Rules Governing Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band elections?

Only those members 18 years of age or over on the date of the Qalipu election, whether Founding Members on the updated list, former Founding Members who have remained members through a category change or have become members through an application seeking registration under the Indian Act, will be eligible to vote.

An updated Founding Members list has been passed through Order in Council and came into effect on June 25, 2018.   Qalipu expects to have a copy of this list on August 31, 2018.

Won’t the recent court rulings change this?

With the recent court rulings, regarding the right to appeal for applicants denied on the self-identification criterion, for instance, we could see more people added to the Band.   At this time however, we can only work with what’s in front of us.  We expect to have an established Band list by August 31, and this will determine not only who our eligible voters are but also, who can run for Council.

If the membership accepts these proposed changes to the Custom Rules, when will the changes come into effect?

Changes to the Custom Rules would come into effect for the next general election in 2021.