Dysart et al is changing the way people can vote in the 2022 municipal election.
At its April 27 meeting, council opted for internet and telephone voting.
That is a change from the 2018 election, when the township went with vote-by-mail.
Clerk Mallory Bishop said in talks with clerks of the other townships, they are striving for a consistent voting method across the board.
“Should all four municipalities select the same voting method for the 2022 municipal election, there is a chance to work collaboratively to deliver a consistent election (training, education, advertisement, processes and procedures) for all residents of Haliburton County,” she said in a written report.
She added it made sense for collaborative procurement purposes as outlined in the service delivery review.
Bishop said voting by internet or telephone allows an elector to vote from anywhere with a telephone or internet connection.
Voters receive a voter’s information package with a unique personal numeric passcode. When logging on to the website, they enter their PIN and answer a security question. They can then vote, review and confirm.
With telephone voting, people call a toll-free number, enter their PIN, and follow a touch-tone menu to cast their ballot.
Bishop outlined the benefits including: accessibility for persons with disabilities, seniors and seasonal residents; a lengthier voting window; better privacy; could increase voter turnout; reduces election costs including for fewer staff; less of a chance for errors or spoiled ballots; immediate results and engaging younger voters.
She added, “in light of the COVID19 pandemic or any future seasonal or public health risks, this method ensures there would be no gathering of electors to vote or staff to count ballots.” She said it would also eliminate the need to handle thousands of mail-in ballots.
Bishop further said that during the voting period, staff will arrange for equipment to be made available at an accessible location for anyone who does not have the technology or connectivity.
Mayor Andrea Roberts said she was excited as council had discussed e-voting in the past but had not chosen that method. She added she is pleased all four townships are looking at a similar method far out from the 2022 poll.
Coun. John Smith said while he thought it was a “sensible” thing to do, there is a risk of technical issues. He asked if other municipalities using e-voting had noticed improved voter turnout. He was further worried about frail elderly people using internet and telephone options.
“It does have the potential (to increase voter turnout) just because of the convenience factor,” Bishop said. She added they will be able to assist voters who request help.
Coun. Larry Clarke thought it was a “good move.” He noted some wards have large seasonal resident populations that will benefit. He added it is a modern method. “How many bills do you get in the mail?” He said it would also cut down on managing paperwork.
Noting Coun. Smith’s concerns, Clarke said there would be a transition period but “they also have a year and a half.”
Dysart puts away money every year for the next election and will have $68,000 in place for the 2022 vote. The township has until May of 2022 to pass a bylaw.