People in Warwick will be able to vote from their homes in the next municipal election.
Township council told its staff to set up Internet and telephone voting for the municipal election process in 2018.
“Internet/telephone voting should be regarded as a customer service initiative as it offers enhanced accessibility and convenience to electors particularly to electors with disabilities,” says Administrator/Clerk Amanda Gubbels in a report to council. “An elector can vote wherever they have an Internet equipped devices such as computer, laptop, tablet or smart-phone.”
Gubbels says the majority of the 97 Ontario communities who used the voting option in 2014 were satisifed with the outcome. She says security issues which have cited as problematic in the past have largely been addressed and resolved.
Gubbels adds a joint Request for Proposals (RFP’s) for service providers with other muncipalities in Lambton County could cut for the new system by up to 50 percent per voter.
Councillors, with the excpetion of Jerry Westgate who was absent from the meeting, spoke in favour of moving in the new direction. Councillor Jackie Rombouts says her own parents couldn’t vote in the last municipal election because health issues didn’t allow them to get a polling station.
But Mayor Case cautions the approach must be transitional so as not to scare away those who still enjoy casting a ballot at a polling station.
“I am a traditionalist and I look forward to coming to a polling station and casting my ballot,” says Case. “But this is the way of the world and I am support this direction.”
The staff report says that special voting locations such retirement and nursing home should remain in place as could a polling station at the township office.
Council is expected to further discuss the matter early in the new year once Requests for Proposals are received from service providers.
The Municipal Elections Act says bylaws to use alternate forms of voting in the next municipal election must be in place by May 2017.
Oil Springs, Plympton-Wyoming and Sarnia have all approved Internet and telephone voting as an option for the next municipal election, while Petrolia, Point Edward, Dawn-Euphemia, and Lambton Shores are expected to discuss the issue at respective meetings in the near future.