Plympton-Wyoming is the latest Lambton County municipality to sign up for Internet and Phone voting.
But Mayor Lonny Napper is raising questions about the company expected to provide the service.
Plympton-Wyoming Council approved the idea of internet and phone voting at its most recent meeting by a vote of 6 to 1.
Napper says there will be voting stations at the town hall and the local libraries to help guide voters who aren’t familiar with computers. “I was surprised a lot of older people who welcomed it,” says Napper of the idea. He added he hopes it may get “people who have never voted before” to be a part of the election.
Napper believes it will also make election planning easier. “It was getting harder and harder to get people out to work the polls,” he says.
A report from Plympton-Wyoming’s clerk says the move isn’t expected to save money; at a total cost of about $25,000 to hold the vote and maintain the voters list, Brianna Coughlin says it will cost about the same amount of money as a traditional election.
While council is behind the concept, Napper admits there is concern about the service provider which the eight municipalities have selected. Intelivote is a Nova Scotia based company which has been embroiled in problems with the Halifax Regional Municipality. That city has refused to use the company any further and Intelivote is facing legal problems with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
Napper has heard the media reports about the company’s problems and has asked his staff to “check it out before signing any deals. We should do that before we hire any company,” Napper added.
Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott shares some of Napper’s concerns. Enniskillen council was expected to make a final decision on the concept Tuesday night. But Marriott is hesitant.
For Enniskillen, Internet voting will be more expensive than the traditional vote. And he says while online voting may attract younger people, he’s worried traditional voters will be frustrated by it and not bother.
And not all Enniskillen residents have a great Internet connection, he says, which already makes him question the choice.
But he says the news of potential instablity of the company which has been selected makes him even more nervous.
“It’s another good reason that I, personally, would like to wait out one more election. In four years, we hope to have our Internet problem solved and it may be better. This is a one-time event in four years, why rush into it?”
But Warwick Mayor Todd Case is confident the new system, and the company selected will be fine. Warwick has also approved the idea.
Case has “heard the rumours” but has been “reassured” by staff, Intelivote can get the job done.
Warwick Clerk Amanda Gubbells says the municipal clerks looked at the company’s staffing and did reference checks with municipalities that used the service before. “We looked at their infrastructure and the volume of elections they held at one time,” she says adding the municipal clerks are confident in the company’s competence.
“They do have quite a bit of experience in the field, the most of everyone.”