THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – On Monday, December 15, City of Thunder Bay At-Large Councillor, Iain Angus, will ask his Council colleagues to adopt an “alternate method” of voting “that does not require electors to attend at a voting place in order to vote”. This could include such methods as vote-by-mail, telephone voting and Internet voting. According to Angus this provision is allowed for under the Municipal Act.
Angus cited the lengthy line ups and high level of frustration occurring during the last general election as his impetus for proposing this change at this time. “While the frustrations are top of mind for the members of Council and the public, it is appropriate that we move to provide a solution that not only deals with the line up and frustration issues but can deal with real accessibility challenges as well” said Angus.
The following is the wording of the motion: “With respect to the method of voting used in elections in the City of Thunder Bay, for Council and School Boards, we recommend that City Council authorize the use of Internet/telephone voting for future elections and by-elections; AND THAT any necessary by-laws be presented to City Council for ratification.”
According to Angus “Traditional poll voting, whether or not vote tabulators are used, faces logistical limitations that are largely unavoidable. For example the requirement under the Act that all polling locations meet current standards for accessibility limits the number of properties/buildings that can be used as a polling location. Administration advises that adding locations beyond those currently used would be very difficult, and in some neighbourhoods simply not possible”.
“While I have been advised that the City Clerk will be reporting separately on the election, its accessibility features and steps that can be taken in future elections to try and avoid line-ups’ and delays in voting, Council has the ability to take a positive step forward with respect to increasing access to voting for all voters by authorizing the use of Internet and telephone voting,” added Angus.
“The use of Internet and telephone voting has been endorsed by and advocated for by Council’s own Accessibility Advisory Committee. It is clear that improving access to voting, as with many things, for those with disabilities benefits not only the disabled community but all members of our community. Whether it is considering our aging population, reaching younger voters or those voters that are absent from the City during an election, the option to use Internet and telephone voting offers the greatest access to the election for all voters.”
Angus indicated that “as many as 98 municipalities in Ontario used Internet/telephone voting during the 2014 general Municipal & School Board elections without any difficulties”.
“It is time that the City of Thunder Bay join those already taking advantage of this option and authorize its use” he concluded and invited citizens who support this proposal to make their views known to members of Council before Monday night”.