New voting method for Greater Sudbury in 2022 municipal election
Mayor Brian Bigger says residents want both electronic and paper ballot options
Voters in the City of Greater Sudbury will see both electronic and paper ballots for the 2022 municipal election.
During Tuesday's city council meeting, councillors agreed that there were many issues during the election in October 2018, and solutions needed to be found before the next vote.
While there is still more than three years before that time, mayor Brian Bigger says he made promises to residents that he would find out what went wrong during the last election, and find a way to improve the process.
City staff reviewed other voting methods to help council decide which would be best in the city.
Council voted in favour of the "use of electronic voting throughout the entire voting period combined with paper ballots with electronic vote tabulators on Election Day."
Sudbury voters were also polled shortly after last fall's election to hear what they wanted.
"Overwhelmingly, 78 per cent of citizens wanted there to be a combination of the in person paper balloting and online voting in 2022, it was very clear, fresh experience and that's what they were asking for," Bigger said.
He says he knows some residents are worried about the cost of this voting method, which will be about $600,000 more than the 2018 municipal election.
"There were some complaints about the cost of a mixed paper and electronic option – but in my opinion there is no way we can afford to have another election system that's not trusted, reliable or beyond failure. We cannot and will not allow what happened last October to happen again," Bigger said.
Many councillors agreed that including a paper option for people who did not want to or could not vote online is the preferred voting method.
"There's definitely a need for a lot of people for the paper ballot option. I was quite surprised actually when people slammed their doors and said 'they took away my right to a ballot' and I think the ceremony of voting needs to be protected in that way," councillor Geoff McCausland said.
Councillor Michael Vagnini says he's concerned about the amount of voter information cards that were wrongly sent.
"We've had places where people received for two individuals within their home who had passed, they received a voting card. So what was stopping those individuals from going online and voting," he said.
Vagnini says he heard from many people who received cards for family members who have died, people who no longer lived at an address and even duplicate cards in someone's married name and maiden name.
He added that this is an issue that needs to be dealt with before the next election.
City solicitor and clerk, Eric Labelle says they are working on figuring out ways to make sure that mistakes like these don't happen.
He says the voter list comes directly from the province, but the city doesn't get the list until an election year.
Labelle adds the city does update the list when they know someone has died or moved, but they don't always have that information.
"The clerk has the discretion to remove people from the list if we're aware that somebody is deceased, however, we're not aware of all that information, so the responsibility is largely on electors to bring this forward."