FREDERICTON (GNB) – A bill tabled in the legislative assembly today proposes putting Elections New Brunswick in charge of hiring returning officers for provincial and local government elections through its own merit-based process.

Chief Electoral Officer Kimberly Poffenroth said the move to end the practice of the government appointing returning officers to administer elections is welcome and long overdue.

“In this most fundamental part of the democratic process, it is important that returning officers not only be nonpartisan in fact, but they must be viewed by the public and participants in the political process as being nonpartisan,” said Poffenroth. “This change will significantly increase the perceived independence of these key election officials. It is also critical that returning officers have the skills required to manage today’s modern elections.”

If the legislation passes, New Brunswick will become the final province in the country to move towards an independent, merit-based hiring practice for returning officers. Poffenroth thanked the members of the legislative assembly who have expressed support for this change in the past.