Lit­tle public input prior to de­ci­sion on elec­tronic vot­ing

The Woolwich Observer - - COMMENT - BOB JONKMAN | ELMIRA

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.

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