Earlier this year, the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) conducted a public survey to determine the community’s preferred voting method ahead of next year’s municipal election.
“The preferred method of voting was electronic voting – being online – followed by vote-by-mail, in-person – being paper ballot – and telephone voting,” said Corrina Giles, town clerk for TBM during a council meeting held on Tuesday.
Due to changes to the Municipal Elections Act that were made in 2020, the council is required to pass a bylaw by May 1, 2022 setting the method and manner of voting.
Town staff are recommending a “hybrid model” based on the results of a public survey that was held from May 3 to June 1 and received 322 responses.
The survey asked for age range, location, and voting preferences.
Many of the survey respondents suggested they would prefer the municipality to include online voting due to geographical or accessibility barriers.
A question on previous voting habits also indicated that 24.5 per cent of respondents or 79 individuals did not vote in the 2018 election.
The 2018 election was the first time TBM used telephone and online voting systems. Previous elections in 2006, 2010 and 2014 were conducted by mail with the use of tabulators.
The 2018 election also saw the highest voter turnout of the last four elections at 39.6 per cent.
At TBM’s committee of the whole meeting held on Tuesday, council received the survey results and directed that electronic voting – internet and telephone voting – be approved as the voting method for the 2022 Municipal and School Board Election, and direct staff to provide a bylaw to a future meeting of council for enactment.
Giles confirmed that the new bylaw will not impede anyone who wishes to vote in person.
“Anyone that still wishes to vote in-person, they do have the ability to come to the town hall, to use our devices here, should they require assistance or some people just wish to have the feeling of going to a voting place,” she said.
“So this model satisfies that need, as well as the need of those that do not want to come to a voting place, as they may be far away or unable to come to the town hall to vote.”
The municipal election is set to take place on Oct. 22, 2022.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca