Electronic only voting worries seniors
SARNIA — Sarnia voters will be casting their ballots during the next 10 days, but one of the most reliable voting groups — seniors — are worried the city’s new electronic voting system will leave them voiceless.
“It is a concern,” said Diana Bradley, a longtime voter in Sarnia. “My computer’s old. I worry about (whether) it’s going to work the day I want to use it.”
Sarnia and most Lambton County municipalities are using only electronic voting, either by telephone or online. City and county staff have tried to prepare voters, especially seniors, in the months leading up to election day on Oct. 22.
But for all their good intentions, some concerns remain.
“We’ve definitely heard people talking about it,” said Rebecca Mills, activity co-ordinator with Strangway Community Centre. “We had a few seminars in the summer . . . but I think with any sort of change . . . people get concerned.”
There are other factors as well. Missing voter identification cards, supposed to be mailed out before the end of September, have been the most common complaint among seniors.
And while Sarnia city hall says glitches in its voter registration system are common and addressed every year, it compounds a distrust in the new system for many seniors.
“I’d say more than half our residents never got their (voter notification card),” said Natalie Pereria, activity co-ordinator with the Village on the St. Clair retirement home. “(That’s) the thing they’re worried about the most.”
On Wednesday, Sarnia City Hall opened its doors late to help people sign up to vote. While turnout was sporadic at best, assistance will nevertheless remain at city hall throughout the election period. There also will be people in city hall on election day to help people more comfortable with getting out to vote.
Roughly 5.2 per cent of Sarnia’s population, or a little more than 2,600 people, cast their virtual ballots on the first day of advance voting Thursday.
The city also will bring technology to retirement homes during the next week.
“We send teams during the voting period,” Fred Tranquilli, clerk in Strathroy-Caradoc, said. “Starting Monday, we set up electronic voting stations at one of the local senior residences, and we basically walk through the building with a tablet and help anyone who needs to vote.”