SBP coun­cil says ‘no’ to online vot­ing

Wiarton Echo - - NEWS - Zoe Kessler Ed­i­tor

In a move that sur­prised some of its own mem­bers, the Town of South Bruce Penin­sula coun­cil voted to stay with the sta­tus quo vot­ing method of first-past-the­p­ost us­ing mail-in bal­lots in the up­com­ing 2018 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion.

At its Feb. 7 coun­cil meet­ing, with Deputy Mayor Jay Kirk­land ab­sent, Coun­cil­lors Craig Gam­mie and Ana Vukovic voted against adopt­ing online and tele­phone bal­lots, catch­ing Mayor Jan­ice Jack­son and Coun­cil­lor Matt Jack­son off guard.

On Jan. 17, in a recorded vote, Mayor Jan­ice Jack­son and Coun­cil­lors Craig Gam­mie and Matt Jack­son voted to pro­ceed with in­ter­net/tele­phone vot­ing and Deputy Mayor Jay Kirk­land and Coun­cil­lor Ana Vukovic voted against. Staff was di­rected to pro­vide a re­port – in­clud­ing the nec­es­sary by­law to en­able coun­cil to adopt the new vot­ing meth­ods – at a fu­ture coun­cil meet­ing.

When the is­sue came back to coun­cil at its Feb. 7 meet­ing, the new elec­toral method was quashed in lieu of the sta­tus quo.

Coun­cil moved on to dis­cuss two more agenda items, af­ter which Mayor Jack­son said she wanted to re­visit the vot­ing method, say­ing Counc. Gam­mie had re­versed his po­si­tion and cit­ing an in­for­mal email sur­vey she had taken to as­cer­tain the pref­er­ences of SBP ratepay­ers.

Counc. Gam­mie called a point of or­der say­ing once the vote had been taken, coun­cil could not go back to the topic.

Mayor Jack­son pro­ceeded, with sev­eral in­ter­rup­tions from Counc. Gam­mie.

Mayor Jack­son said she had emailed 434 con­stituents to find out their vot­ing method pref­er­ences.

“I owe it to the peo­ple to tell them what 434 con­stituents re­sponded – only 25 said they pre­ferred to stay with the mail-in bal­lot,” Jack­son said.

Jack­son added she had re­ceived a com­ment that the peo­ple she had emailed ob­vi­ously had in­ter­net, but she said the new vot­ing op­tion in­cluded tele­phone bal­lots as well.

“I just wanted to let you know that only six per cent of all the peo­ple that I polled, six per cent wanted to re­main with a mail-in bal­lot. I think that’s a pretty good polling of how the peo­ple feel.”

Gam­mie said, “Your poll doesn’t meet any of the cri­te­ria of a poll. It’s not a good sam­ple, it’s not ran­dom. There are all kinds of prob­lems with it.”

He added the sam­ple was nei­ther rel­e­vant nor valid.

Af­ter this dis­cus­sion, Mayor Jack­son called for a sec­ond vote on the is­sue, this time to be recorded. The re­sults were the same, with Coun­cil­lors Gam­mie and Vukovic vot­ing to re­main with mail-in bal­lots.

In an in­ter­view af­ter the meet­ing, Counc. Gam­mie said, “I did not change my per­spec­tive on this.”

Gam­mie said he had voted Jan. 17 for a staff re­port to be brought for­ward, but that he had wanted to get more feed­back from peo­ple, which he had done.

He said a lot of peo­ple – he did not spec­ify with whom or how many he had spo­ken with – had told him that they or peo­ple they knew would not vote if the new sys­tem were adopted.

Gam­mie said peo­ple with­out com­put­ers or who were averse to tele­phone bank­ing, “gen­er­ally older, but not nec­es­sar­ily older,” would not vote if the new sys­tem was adopted.

“And that turned it for me,” he said, adding, “We want as full a par­tic­i­pa­tion as we can get.”

In an in­ter­view af­ter the Feb. 7 meet­ing, Counc. Jack­son said, “I thought we were mov­ing in a di­rec­tion to mod­ern­ize our vot­ing sys­tem. It’s the di­rec­tion that the vast ma­jor­ity of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties within the county have moved in.”

Jack­son called online vot­ing “the way of the fu­ture.”

He said he felt online/tele­phone vot­ing would make vot­ing more ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple.

“Quite frankly I’m dis­ap­pointed be­cause I think by mov­ing in the di­rec­tion I thought we were go­ing – online and tele­phone vot­ing – we prob­a­bly would have seen an in­crease in voter turnout,” he said.

At press time, six Bruce County com­mu­ni­ties – in­clud­ing the neigh­bour­ing Mun­ci­pal­ity of North­ern Bruce Penin­sula – have cho­sen in­ter­net/tele­phone vot­ing for their mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

The changes in vot­ing meth­ods – in­clud­ing a new op­tion to adopt ranked bal­lot elec­tions – were ini­ti­ated by the Mu­nic­i­pal Elec­tions Act, Bill 181, Mu­nic­i­pal Elec­tions Mod­ern­iza­tion Act and Bill 68, Mod­ern­iz­ing On­tario’s Mu­nic­i­pal Leg­is­la­tion Act, 2016.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.