Gwich'in voters can cast ballots over the phone in upcoming election

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People will now be able to cast phone-in votes in the upcoming Gwich'in Tribal Council election.

This is a first for members of the council. In 2016, it first introduced online voting.

Now voters who may have trouble accessing internet and who can't vote in person — due to living far from voting sites or those with health concerns — will have another option.

Mary Ann Villeneuve, the chief returning officer with the council, said phone voting was introduced partly because of concerns over the accessibility of online voting among elders.

"It gives people an option, right? Maybe they don't have internet or you know, they're not familiar with voting online or anything technology," Villeneuve said.

Gwich'in voters who opt to do electronic voting will be able to go online or call a number and enter their unique pin to cast a ballot.

"Voters will receive it in the mail. Basically, it's a letter — it will have all the instructions," Villeneuve said.

She said people can also request an absentee ballot if neither electronic voting nor in-person voting is an option.

The election is on Sept. 3 between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. MT.

There are two candidates running for chief and two candidates running for deputy grand chief. Neither current Grand Chief Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan, nor deputy chief Jordan Peterson will be running.

There will be health safety measures in place at in-person voting stations for those who cast paper ballots.

In-person polling stations include:

  • Aklavik visitors centre (Aklavik).

  • Ingamo Hall Friendship Centre (Inuvik).

  • Tsiigehtchic Charter Community, boardroom (Tsiigehtchic).

There will also be a polling station in Fort McPherson, but the site is yet to be determined.