Orangeville unable to offer e-voting for 2022 municipal election

May 6, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

While Shelburne prepares for electronic voting in their 2022 election, the Town of Orangeville is proceeding with the same system used in 2018.

Council voted to pass a bylaw to authorize the use of optical scanning vote tabulators and a vote at home program in the 2022 municipal and school board elections during a regular meeting on April 26.

However, much of Council was disappointed to hear that that e-voting wouldn’t be available as an option to residents next year.

“I know a lot of community members were hoping we had hit that milestone or that technology in the last election and this motion would suggest that we would put it off for another cycle,” said Grant Peters, in reference to Town’s staff’s report on voting methods for the upcoming 2022 election.

“Our turnout is already quite horrendous. I’m not saying that online [voting] would fix that, but obviously having more options is good for the voter.”

Coun. Peters added that putting e-voting off for four more years “doesn’t quite sit with me”, before asking how the rest of Council felt about the issue.

Deputy Mayor Macintosh said he agrees with Coun. Peters, but noted that there’s not enough time to properly prepare.

“I do worry about security issues with online voting and I just think we need to take it slow and be sure,” he remarked. “Maybe if we started [working on] this right in 2018 we’d be on topic by now, but I think it’s too late now to do this and do it safely.”

Town Clerk, Karen Landry said she shares the sentiment of wanting to move towards e-voting but after careful consideration, it’s been determined that the voters lists, which are sent out by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) are too inaccurate for it to move forward in 2022. However, voters lists will be Elections Ontario’s responsibility in the 2026 municipal election and at that time the Town of Orangeville will be better positioned to implement e-voting.

“When you move to e-voting, the accuracy of the voters list is, to me, fundamental. Especially if you’re going to look at what they refer to as a one step process through e-voting versus a two-step process, which requires prior registration,” Landry noted.

“The other thing is that there was a federal election paper that has been produced that speaks to e-voting, and the need to have minimum legal standards established for security reasons.”

Landry also added that when the Town does move forward, they need to put out an aggressive public education strategy on electronic voting, starting no later than 2024, so residents can be properly informed on the new voting method.

Meanwhile, Coun. Debbie Sherwood brought up concerns regarding the amount of time it took to verify the results of Orangeville’s 2018 municipal election.

“I don’t think there was any glitches or problems with it at the actual voting stations, but I can tell you that there was definitely some issues with getting the results back… they took over an hour to get the results to the media,” she noted.  “I felt it [was] a little flawed and frustrating waiting on the results.”

In Landry’s response to Coun. Sherwood’s concerns, she said she will look into what caused the delay in the 2018 election so it can be rectified for the 2022 election.

Council then approved the motion to authorize the use of optical scanning vote tabulators and a vote at home program for 2022.

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