Elections NWT

Elections NWT

Infobox Northwest Territories government departments
logo=ElectionsNWTLogo.pngcurrent_ceo=Saundra Arberry

Elections NWT is an agency functioning as an independent arm of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. The agency is mandated to enforce laws relating to territorial elections, including those of conduct related to campaigning and finance. The agency also administers general elections, by-elections and plebiscites in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Its principal mandate is to educate, inform and empower all eligible electors and candidates in the Northwest Territories.

Prior to the existence of Elections NWT, territorial elections were run by Elections Canada and its predecessor agency the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. That agency was in charge of all electoral activity in the territory since 1951. Prior to 1905 the Lieutenant Governor of the territory was responsible for elections oversight.

In 2007 Elections NWT became responsible for dropping the writs in accordance with fixed election date legislation. The act of dropping the writ removed the last power regarding elections from the Commissioner of the territories. It is also responsible for publishing election returns, reports and candidate finances as well as creating advertising campaigns. In addition it is responsible for hiring staff during election campaigns. The Chief electoral officer is elected by the Legislative Assembly.

Early history

The first provisions in legislation regarding the oversight of Northwest Territories elections was adopted in 1880 with an amendment to the "Northwest Territories Act" passed by the Parliament of Canada. The first election legislation was known as Section 15 under the Act.cite book | title=Ordinances of the Northwest Territories: Passed in the Year 1878 and 1879| year = 1884 | publisher = Nicholas Flood Davin |pages=57]

The election legislation spelled out basic parameters for the creation of electoral districts, eligibility of electors and how votes were to be conducted. Oversight was given to the Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories to royally proclaim electoral district boundaries on the formula of 1000 electors per 1000 square miles. Other responsibilities included issuing writs and appointing Chief Returning Officers to oversee each election.

The first legislation passed by the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly regarding election administration was "An Ordinance respecting controverted elections". This piece of legislation was given Royal Assent on August 6, 1884. The ordinance was put in place to deal with potentially corrupt electoral practices. The ordinance required a valid elector to petition the Lieutenant Governor, with a sworn affidavit stating the offense and a fee of $10.00 Canadian dollars to be presented within two months of the writ being returned.cite book| title=Ordinances of the North-West Territories and Orders in Council and Proclamations | year = 1884 |pages = 142-143| publisher = Nicholas Flood Davin]

In 1888 the Lieutenant Governor ceded his powers of electoral district creation. The powers instead came under federal control with the passage of the "North-West Representation Act" through the Parliament of Canada. The formula for representation of the electoral districts was revised to 2500 electors per district and no size restriction. The first comprehensive legislation detailing electoral procedures was passed by the Legislative Assembly, "An Ordinance respecting Elections to the North-West Legislative Assembly" was given Royal Assent on December 31, 1892. This legislation formed the basis of electoral law that is in current use today in the territories as well as Saskatchewan and Alberta.cite book| title=Ordinances of the North-West Territories Passed in the Third Session of the Second Legislative Assembly | year = 1893 |pages = 59-101| publisher = R.B. Gordon]

In the years from 1881 until 1905 the Chief Returning Officer for each electoral district was responsible for certifying returns and publishing them in local journals of records. No official publications on election wide statistics and returns were compiled into a single source until the resumption of elections in 1951.cite web | url =http://www.saskarchives.com/web/seld/1-00.pdf | title =North-West Territories: Council and Legislative Assembly, 1876-1905 | publisher =Saskatchewan Archives | accessdate = 2007-09-30|format=PDF]

Office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada

In 1905 the populated regions of the Northwest Territories were carved out to form Alberta and Saskatchewan. The territorial government was reduced to an appointed council, and the Lieutenant Governor replaced by a Commissioner. The Council and Commissioner were moved by the federal government to the nations capital Ottawa, Ontario. The next general election would not be held until 46 years later. In preparation for new elections an amended Elections Ordinance giving voting status to women was passed in early 1951. The responsibility of oversight came under the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, the predecessor agency to Elections Canada. Revision of territorial electoral districts also remained subject to an act of the Parliament of Canada.

The Northwest Territories Legislature passed an amended Elections Act in the 10th Legislative Assembly in 1987 to create an independent agency to oversee elections.cite web|url=http://www.parl.gc.ca/infoparl/english/issue.htm?param=122&art=745#8 | title = Legislative Reports - Northwest Territories | publisher = Parliament of Canada | work = Canadian Parliamentary Review Vol 10 no 3 1987 | accessdate =2007-11-24 ] The agency was intended to run the 1991 Northwest Territories general election, but was not ready in time. Elections Canada continued to run elections in the territory until 1995.

1995 election

Elections NWT was supposed to take full control of elections regulations and oversight in time for the 1995 Northwest Territories general election. Lack of funding however prevented the Legislative Assembly from appointing Chief Electoral Officer.

The election was run by Elections Canada with Jean-Pierre Kingsley acting as the Chief Electoral Officer to oversee the operations of Elections NWT staff. Elections Canada was also responsible for publishing reports and returns related to the election.cite web|url=http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=med&document=oct0996&dir=spe&lang=e&textonly=false | title = Opening Comments by Mr. Kingsley before the standing committee on Government Operations | author = Jean-Pierre Kingsley | publisher = Elections Canada | date = October 9, 1996 | accessdate = 2007-11-24]


accessdate = 2007-11-24]

Elections NWT was mandated to oversee the first Nunavut general election because an agency had not yet been created in the new territory, and the election laws of the Northwest Territories were still in use.cite web|url=http://www.electionsnwt.ca/english/news_releases_archives.htm#1 | title = Nunavut Candidates Nominated | publisher = Elections NWT | date = January 11, 1999 |accessdate = 2007-11-25] The agency also ran Nunavut's first by-election held in the electoral district of Quttiktuq on December 4, 2000.cite web|url=http://www.nunatsiaq.com/archives/nunavut001231/nvt21208_01.html|title=Rebecca Williams wins a squeaker in Quttiktuq | publisher = Nunatsiaq News |date=December 8, 2000| accessdate = 2007-09-26]

After the general election Chief Electoral Officer David Hamilton recommended the creation of a similar non-partisan agency to operate specifically for Nunavut. He also recommended the agency be called Elections Nunavut.cite web|url=http://www.assembly.nu.ca/old/english/committees/ajauqtiit/appoint_ceo.pdf | title =Report on the Appointment of the Chief Electoral Officer for Nunavut | publisher = Legislative Assembly of Nunavut | month = November | year = 2001 | author = Ovide Alakannuark & David Iqaqrialu| accessdate = 2007-11-24|format=PDF] The recommendations were subsequently adopted

Recent developments

The Legislative Assembly passed an amended Elections Act on January 7, 2007. The act entrenched fixed election dates into law, and gave the Chief Electoral Officer the power to issue writs.cite web|url=http://www.cbc.ca/nwtvotes2007/features/features-fixed-date.html | title = Fixed election date in the N.W.T.: What does it mean, and why? | date = September 25, 2007 | author = Donna Lee |accessdate = 2007-11-26]

The changes to the law were recommended to the Assembly by David Hamilton. Under the old election cycle, elections were called four years to the day of the writs being returned. This cycle would have caused the next election to be held in December in the Winter months, and also would conflict with municipal elections.

Chief Electoral Officer Saundra Arberry signed the Writs of Election on September 3, 2007, which officially started the 28-day territorial general election period. This is the first election in Territorial history where the Chief Electoral Officer issued the Writs of Election. Previously, the task was shared jointly with the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories Tony Whitford.


External links

* [http://www.electionsnwt.com Elections NWT]
* [http://www.assembly.gov.nt.ca/ Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories]

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