Internet and telephone voting approved for next Centre Wellington election

·2 min read

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Residents in Centre Wellington will again be able to vote by internet or telephone in the 2022 municipal election.

Council approved the methods at Monday’s meeting, citing the success of the methods in the previous election and problems with mail-in ballots.

Although the election is still more than a year away, clerk Kerri O’Kane said the township tends to prepare for this sooner than most would think.

The Municipal Act requires councils to decide on alternative voting methods by May 1 of the election year but O’Kane said there are advantages to choosing ahead of time.

“Early procurement of a vendor and securing the necessary equipment early may prove valuable given most municipalities across Ontario, and perhaps other provinces who may have delayed elections due to COVID, will be using methods,” O’Kane said.

The last election had telephone and internet voting but mail-in voting has also been used prior to that.

Vote by mail was an option but council was much more supportive of the other alternative.

Coun. Neil Dunsmore said internet voting is more flexible, cost-effective and was successfully used last time.

Coun. Stephen Kitras said it went better than expected and his concern about having more locations to help people with this method appears to be addressed through the report.

However, he noted participation rates were lower than in elections that used mail-in ballots and asked what steps will be taken to address that.

“That was one of the arguments for it, that it (internet voting) would be more accessible and participation rates might be higher,” Kitras said.

O’Kane said the method of voting does not always correlate to voter turnout which is impacted more from people’s interest in local politics and if any of the races are controversial.

“Making it accessible and easy is an important step in making sure that everyone has a right to vote and it’s easy to vote,” O’Kane said. “We’re pleased with anything above provincial average so we’re pleased with voter turnout.”

Coun. Kirk McElwain said mail-in ballots are not a great option because people vote too soon.

“When you’re out campaigning, knocking on doors, a very high percentage of people have already sent their votes in,” McElwain said.

Council's vote was unanimous.

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com