Province responds to electoral reform recommendations

Moving from first-past-the-post to preferential ballots will be part of a referendum during the May 2020 municipal elections, which will also give New Brunswickers their say on lowering the

The province issued its official response Thursday to recommendations made by New Brunswick's Commission on Electoral Reform earlier in March.

Premier Brian Gallant says the province will also move the fixed election date to the third Monday in October from the fourth Monday in September after the next election.

Some stakeholders said it would accommodate a greater number of post-secondary students who wish to participate in the electoral process.

But the province has said no to electronic voting, at least for now, but says a pilot project will be considered in a future municipal byelection "if concerns about security and voter confidentiality can be addressed."

New Brunswick has also said no to granting permanent residents who are not yet Canadian citizens the right to vote and to seek public office.

"Further examination found that there are constitutional issues related to the recommendations that prevent action being taken at this time," the province said in a news release.

Other recommendations the province says it will act on include:

  • lowering the political contribution limit to $3,000 from the current $6,000;
  • implementing an election commitment costing process with consequences for non-compliance.
  • giving greater weight to votes received by female candidates under the formula for public financing to political parties;
  • implementing civics education in public schools; and
  • working with Elections New Brunswick to ensure the 2018 budget includes sufficient funding for the office to promote changes to the electoral system, encourage voter participation, increase youth voter turnout, and improve access to registration and voting at educational institutions;

The province says phasing out union and corporate contributions to political parties, reimbursing election expenses effective Jan. 1 of the election year, and adjusting the annual allowance for public financing to political parties will be considered after the next provincial election.