It's official: Residents of Wellesley and Woolwich will cast their votes online or by telephone in the 2018 municipal election.
Township councillors in both municipalities decided Tuesday to replace paper ballots with the new methods of voting in an effort to make the election more convenient and accessible.
"If we can do that and save the constituents some money, then I think it's a win-win for everybody," said Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak, who was not discouraged by suggestions that online reporting could be less secure than paper ballots.
'If this is the way that we're heading – and it feels like this is the way that we're heading, to online voting – then let's make it happen and let's move forward.' - Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz
"The electronic voting method has been available, I think, since 2003. In the last election, out of the 444 municipalities, I believe 97 of them went this route. Studies after that indicated that there was no significant breech of protocol or any concerns brought forward. I think that speaks for itself."
Wellesley councillors voted unanimously in favour of adopting an online and telephone election system. In Woolwich, councillors voted four to one in favour of the same.
The vote sets the two townships apart from other municipalities in Waterloo region, most of which rejected alternate methods of voting in the 2018 municipal election.
Cambridge will include online and telephone voting during advanced polling and on election day, but paper ballots will also be available.
"I don't have a problem being a leader in something," said Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz. "If this is the way that we're heading – and it feels like this is the way that we're heading, to online voting – then let's make it happen and let's move forward."
According to early estimates, running an online and telephone election will cost Wellesley $26,600 and Woolwich $32,035 in 2018.