Town to stick with traditional method of voting for the 2018 municipal election



By Ron Giofu


Residents can expect to go back to the polls next year for the municipal election rather than mailing it in, phoning it in or going online.

The town of Amherstburg has chosen to stick with the traditional method of voting for next year’s election, scheduled to be held October 22, 2018.

Town council passed a motion to use the traditional method of voting for next year’s election, but rejected an administrative recommendation to allow Internet voting for advance polls.

A report from municipal clerk/returning officer Paula Parker listed advantages being that electors are familiar and comfortable with the traditional method; privacy is ensured during the casting of votes; accuracy in the counting of ballots; election results are prompt, timely and accurate; the ballot is tabulated immediately, notifying the voters of any errors on the ballot, reducing the possibility of rejected ballots; there is a paper trail should a recount be necessary; the municipality maintains care custody and control of the election process including but not restricted to the safeguarding of ballots and the counting thereof and candidates are able to campaign up to the close of polls on election day.

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Disadvantages listed to the traditional method were that it limits the flexibility of the voter as they cannot vote anytime and are provided parameters, there may be difficulty in finding accessible voting locations in that previously used voting locations present barriers which negatively affect the ability of electors to access the facility; the weather may have a negative effect on voter turnout; the town may be deemed by some as “old school and non-progressive” and it is more labour intensive and thus increases workload and staffing.

“No one method has proven to be superior to another with respect to voter turnout. Those wishing to vote will do so despite the method chosen. Those that do not wish to vote will not, no matter the issues or the candidates running for office,” Parker stated in her report. “The method of voting will have no effect on those individuals who choose not to vote. It is up to the council of the municipality to choose the method which in its opinion best suits the needs of the electors.”

Parker added: “The statistical data for Amherstburg however, shows that in the 2010 election, Amherstburg used vote by mail as its alternative voting method and received a 67 per cent voter turnout using this method. In the 2014 election, Amherstburg used the traditional method of voting with optical scanning tabulators and received a 47 per cent voter turnout.”

Parker pointed out that the vote by mail method used in 2010 saw “numerous complaints” from both the public and the candidates over the validity of some of the ballots cast, delays in reporting the results and value for dollars spent on the election.

While Amherstburg will use traditional polls with electronic tabulators in 2018, Essex, Windsor and Chatham-Kent also propose similar methods. Kingsville, Lakeshore, LaSalle, Leamington and Tecumseh propose Internet and telephone voting.

“The 2014 municipal election was run as traditional method with optical scan vote

tabulators. In 2014, the cost to run the election was $93,902.80. In preparation of the upcoming 2018 election, the approved 2017, 2016 and 2015 budgets currently incorporate additional funding to adequately manage the considerations identified by the 2014 election,” Parker’s report states. “The election reserve will have $120,000 set aside for the 2018 election to cover cost by election time, should the current budgeting process be followed in 2018. To add internet voting as an additional option for electors in the 2018 election, additional funds of $112,500 will be required in the election reserve budget for 2018.”

As the RTT reported in February, there will be a reduction of the nomination period for next year’s election. Candidates used to be able to file from the first business day in January to the second Friday of September, but new legislation sees the 2018 nomination period lasting from May 1-July 27, 2018. Another change is that candidates now have to be endorsed by 25 people before they can officially get on the ballot.

Parker said that now that the decision has been made on how the electorate will vote in 2018, planning will now commence for the election.