01/20/2015 04:45 EST | Updated 03/22/2015 05:59 EDT

Manitoba New Democrats May Allow Remote Voting For Leadership

WINNIPEG - Manitoba's governing New Democrats may backtrack on a rule for their March leadership vote that requires all delegates to cast their ballot in person.

The provincial council — the party's governing body — has called a special meeting for Sunday to consider options such as mail-in ballots or satellite voting stations in remote communities.

"There's an enormous cost for people to come all the way to Winnipeg to cast their ballot and ... it's absolutely reasonable to find other ways for people to be able to vote on this very important decision," legislature member Rob Altemeyer, one of many party members who has criticized the rule, said Tuesday.

The party executive met last weekend and decided that the normal rules for an annual convention, which require in-person voting, would apply to the March 8 leadership vote because it is being held during the annual meeting.

Many party members opposed the decision. They said high travel costs would deter delegates from northern and remote rural communities from turning up for the vote.

All three leadership candidates — Steve Ashton, Theresa Oswald and Greg Selinger — have said they support options to allow for remote voting. Several members of the NDP caucus, including Altemeyer, Flor Marcelino, Jim Rondeau and deputy premier Eric Robinson, signed a letter to party headquarters asking the rule to be changed.

The leadership vote is being held following a caucus revolt against premier Selinger. Five senior cabinet ministers called on him last fall to consider resigning as the party continued to lag in opinion polls. Selinger refused and challenged his opponents to run against him at the March convention.

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