Little public input prior to decision on electronic voting
To the Editor, I AM DISAPPOINTED IN last week’s decision by Woolwich Council to eliminate the secret ballot for municipal elections, and instead to require voters to vote by Internet or telephone.
I learned of this issue from a notice in the previous week’s Observer, and did not know that the Woolwich website had a survey requesting citizen input until the council meeting on Apr. 25. I wrote to the mayor and councillors that morning. Sadly, this was insufficient time to have the letter entered into the agenda, and, of course, insufficient time for me to register as a delegate, so, my voice was not heard.
Curiously, clerk Val Hummel said the online survey had a respondent from Alberta – it seems that Alberta has a stronger voice to Woolwich council than I do.
There were two delegates who spoke to council, one was a sales rep from Dominion Voting Systems, and the other was a professor of political science. The Dominion Voting sales rep was given unlimited time for his presentation, which naturally favoured online voting. And while the political science professor speaking against online voting was given more than the usual 10 minutes, he was asked to wrap up after only 14 minutes.
Dominion Voting is the vendor of record for Woolwich’s new online and telephone voting system. I find it curious that Woolwich had already retained Dominion Voting well before the online voting bylaw had been passed, and that Dominion Voting was then allowed to have a delegate at council. Is that not a conflict of interest?
Although clerk Hummel claimed that Woolwich had been studying online voting since 2013, I saw no indication that Woolwich intended to abandon the secret ballot until last week. I find the whole process was hasty and rushed. Yes, there is a provincially mandated deadline of May 1, but it was not necessary to both introduce online voting and eliminate the secret ballot at the same time.
Woolwich citizens have had little chance to stand up for democracy, and have not been well represented by council.