Heather Wright/The Independent
Petrolia residents will have two ways to vote in the 2022 municipal election; online or in person at town hall with a paper ballot.
Council agreed Monday to remove the option of voting by telephone after a survey showed only five per cent of voters used the service. Some found it difficult to hear.
“There was not much value added for this service. As we realize that some seniors used this method, we would not eliminate their access by this change, instead we would introduce a single day at Victoria Hall (voting day) where residents not comfortable with technology could come and cast a paper ballot,” wrote Clerk Mandi Pearson in a report to council.
Mayor Brad Loosley likes the idea of paper ballots for some seniors. “I feel very strongly that a number of seniors stated their concern in the last election for not having at least one day to have a hard copy,” he said. “For one more election, I feel very strongly that we should offer the hybrid.”
Councillor Ross O’Hara agreed “100 per cent.
“Because not everybody can vote online. You know, some people do need to have another option.”
Councillor Joel Field was on board with allowing a paper ballot in 2022, even though he doesn’t believe many people need it.
“The one thing that I will say from our last election, nobody had to go online, people had the opportunity to go many days to town halls to the market to different places and cast their votes. I didn’t have anybody tell me they wanted the paper copy. I’m not doubting that there are people that would like to see the paper,” Field told council.
“I think there is going to be a point that we have to go to that next step.”
The town also surveyed its residents about the 2018 election and their voting preferences. Eighty per cent of the 279 people who took part in the survey voted in 2018 and another 97 per cent said they planned to vote in 2022.
Of those who took the online survey, 74 per cent voted online and about five per cent voted by phone. The other 20 per cent either didn’t vote or weren’t eligible to vote.
Respondents were split on whether a paper ballot was necessary.
Petrolia will work with Sarnia to find a contractor to help organize the online voting.