Sundridge looking at cost of tabulators to run future municipal elections

The Village of Sundridge is investigating the feasibility of switching to voting tabulators as a way to speed up the local vote count in future municipal elections.

In introducing the resolution, Councillor Fraser Williamson said Sundridge's neighbour, the Township of Strong, used tabulators in the 2022 election and got faster results.

Williamson said Strong finished counting the ballots about 90 minutes before Sundridge was done with its count.

He said hours after the polls closed, the public kept sending texts to the candidates asking for the election outcome.

Williamson said he experienced voter tabulators in 2003 when he ran for Brampton city council and added the results came in quickly. Sundridge carried out the last municipal election using mail-in ballots.

Staff told council the mail-in option cost $8,000 to $10,000 which included staff time, the ballots and paying the return postage so residents could get their completed ballots back to the municipality.

Staff also noted that the mail-in option saw a 47 percent voter participation which was higher than several past elections.

Staff acknowledged the tabulators save time but added there is a cost to having specialized ballots that are fed into the machines.

Deputy Mayor Shawn Jackson was concerned about switching to the tabulators and cited money as his chief concern.

“Unless the cost was really low, I'd be hesitant to put any money (into a process) to find out results an hour-and-a-half earlier,” Jackson said.

Jackson added he didn't believe it was crucial to learn the results of a local election very quickly.

Councillor Jim MacLachlan wasn't going to vote on switching to tabulators until he had more information.

“I have no difficulty gathering the information,” MacLachlan said. “I want to look at the data.”

Staff will look into the cost of acquiring tabulators and bring the figures back to members of council for their evaluation at a future meeting.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget