Wasted votes signal trouble
Always carefully read the instructions, some assembly is required, the personal approach works, a lasting presence is important, and expect the unexpected. Those are just of some of the nuggets of wisdom that were retained in the wake of the municipal council and school board elections.
Caveat emptor. The “buyer beware” motto could be extended to voter awareness considering the confused state some electors found themselves in when they went to cast ballots to choose the trustee who will represent Glengarry and Stormont on the Upper Canada District School Board for the next four years.
All electors should carefully read the instructions, or voter information letters, before casting ballots online.
At least one North Glengarry voter, Bob Proulx, who also unsuccessfully ran for deputy mayor, was prevented from voting for trustee because on his voter identification card, the School Support box read, “No support.” He had already logged in and logged out. Clang! He couldn’t re-enter the voting site.
When he contacted the township, to explain the error and hopefully have his right to vote for trustee recognized, he was told that nothing could be done. “You didn’t read the card.”
Obviously, in order to prevent vote-rigging, once that virtual door has been opened and closed, there is no way to get back in.
The township said it had received few such complaints and all went well considering that 8,000 voter ID cards were sent out.
It is the responsibility of the individuals to ensure that all information on their identification letters are accurate.
But every time there is a shemozzle, the integrity of the system is called into question, and there is suspicion that some evil force is trying to interfere with democracy or steal your thoughts.
An unintended contender
Another example of the need for enhanced voter education is the fact that Jim Bancroft, who was no longer a candidate, got 1,825 votes. Thankfully, he garnered much less than the winner John Danaher, who received 4,086 and Marshall Wilson, who finished with 2,178.
Back on October 1, more than two weeks before online voting could begin, Mr. Bancroft, the former mayor of South Stormont, announced he was withdrawing from the contest. While it was too late to have his name erased from the ballot, he hoped that by announcing his withdrawal well in advance of the election, taxpayers would have the “opportunity to review the information on the other candidates” before casting their ballots. Well, apparently, 1,825 people did not get that message.
Candidates had to withdraw before July 27 to get out of the races; in the past, the deadline to pull out was in September.
Fortunately, any debate over non-candidate rules was academic because Mr. Danaher scored a clear victory. Even if all of the Bancroft votes had gone to Mr. Wilson, the result would have been the same.
Yet, with all the fancy doo-dads at our disposal one would think it would be easy to delete one name from a list of candidates.
Anyway, despite the glitches, the situation was much worse elsewhere: In 51 Ontario municipalities voters were allowed several additional hours or even an extra day to vote because of elec- tion night snafus. There was a bottleneck in cyberspace because a service provider placed a cap on voter traffic.
A 2017 study into the possibility of using online voting at the federal level noted that the technology promises to deliver the greatest benefits and threatens to pose the greatest risks.
The report cited evidence at the municipal level that online voters are satisfied with the voting method and a majority of paper ballot voters would like to have it offered as a complementary voting option.
Convenience, accessibility and counting efficiency are cited as the main benefits to online voting; public outreach and education, negative media and the potential for fraud are the biggest challenges.
Security experts caution that it is the Wild West out there, warning that we have no idea where our information is being cached. Yet, life is no big gamble and a huge mystery. Every time we turn on a device, we don’t really know who is trying to influence us or sell us something.
One certainty is that online voting in Glengarry has been easy and quick, most of the time.
Unfortunately, a huge percentage of electors continues to not even bother taking part in elections.
The turnout was about 60 per cent in South Glengarry while in North Glengarry, about 43 per cent of eligible voters chose the politicians who will represent them for the next four years.
Politics is personal and requires some assembly, as in a gathering of people.
The personal touch is effective, evidenced by the reception candidates receive when they and their teams go door-to-door. Canvassing, particularly in rural areas where long laneways are the norm, demands commitment and time.
Voters appreciate the effort expended by hopefuls who are willing to go that extra kilometre to woo them.
To be successful, candidates need to assemble a group of supporters who will distribute flyers, put up signs and cheer in all the appropriate places when the candidates are making speeches.
Most of the winners started the campaign with a “base” because they had previously worked on a committee of some sort to champion a cause. Name recognition helps, as evidenced by Mr. Bancroft’s popularity.
Familiarity also worked for Mr. Danaher, a well-known retired educator.
Despite social media, old-fashioned signs that ensure a lasting presence alongside roads are still useful.
The world is rapidly changing yet some conventions and customs never die. There will always be some voter ID mix-ups and technical difficulties but democracy still is working as well as can be expected.
Non-candidate received 1,825 votes