Oro-Medonte council has voted online against the option to vote online in next year’s municipal election.
Township clerk Yvonne Aubichon had recommended in-person, internet and telephone voting — as well as paper ballots upon request — be allowed.
“I am recommending this because it is the most accessible. It requires less resources to run ... It requires less tabulators as there is a reported shortage of tabulators in the system at this time,” she said.
However, a majority of council disagreed with that recommendation during a recent virtual meeting.
“I do not support the internet voting experience. To me, the most important thing is the validation of the voter and making sure that the vote corresponds with the person as opposed to a number that is sent out in the mail for access,” said Coun. Tammy DeSousa.
“There is a good reason why the feds and the province chose the paper ballot in the last election.”
Internet and telephone voting were offered in the 2018 election and, at that time, “basically, the system crashed and the voting results had to be delayed to allow for additional voting” in person, DeSousa said.
Coun. Shawn Scott shared those concerns.
Although he was “skeptical” about internet voting while campaigning in 2018, he “embraced the process, believing in its potential.
“However, at the conclusion of the election process, I must admit I was disappointed by the service provider and the subsequent failure to be able to deliver on time,” he said.
He pointed to the “lack of reliable internet service throughout the municipality,” including at his home, as an issue.
“I do not have faith in providing election integrity while relying on internet and telephone voting.”
Like some of her council colleagues, Coun. Cathy Keane questioned “the integrity of the vote” being done online.
“I’m very sorry, Yvonne,” she told the clerk. “I really enjoyed your report. It was great. I don’t agree with it.”
Joining the three councillors in opposing Aubichon’s recommendation was Mayor Harry Hughes.
“I really have difficulties with the risk and the issues that occur,” he said, adding the technical difficulties experienced in 2018 factored into his decision.
“I would far rather see a system that is more secure.”
Coun. Randy Greenlaw wanted online and telephone voting to be an option. He noted 72 per cent of those who voted in 2018 did so online, which he called “an increase in the right direction.”
He said he understood not everyone will vote electronically, but he also pointed out some younger electors wouldn’t want to do so in person.
“It’s a convenience factor,” he said.
“We’re all very busy. People don’t necessarily work a 9-to-5 job where they can vote on that day.”
Scott put forward a motion to go with Option 4 — using the traditional paper ballot with tabulators — with an amendment to allow for mail-in voting by request.
Coun. Ian Veitch tried to amend that motion to include online voting, saying the number of people who used internet voting in 2018 was “a pretty hard number to not think about.”
Veitch’s amendment was defeated 4-3. He, Greenlaw and Deputy Mayor Ralph Hough voted in favour, while DeSousa, Hughes, Keane and Scott voted against.
Scott’s motion then passed by the same count.