At the Committee of the Whole meeting on January 7, Town Clerk Brent Larmer will present a report on the recent Municipal election including statistics and possible changes for the next election in 2022. At the time, there were a few reports of difficulties and Brent has addressed these in his report. Improvements suggested include upgrading voter list accuracy, expanding the number of days for voting, removing telephone voting but adding additional Voter Help Centres (in person voting locations) and improved communications. The turnout was low at 43.6% although it was better than the Provincial average of 37.7%. But overall, Brent declared the 2018 Municipal Election a success since it “demonstrated convenience, efficiency, accessibility and a cost benefit to the ratepayers and electors of the Municipality”.
On election day (Oct 22) results were promptly announced 45 minutes after the close of voting. Local Cable station Cogeco channel 10/700 were able to interview successful Deputy Mayor elect Suzanne Séguin within minutes (see photo).
Brent reports that the election in the only Municipality (City of London) to use ranked ballots (allowed for the first time) could not provide results until the next day, had no increase in turnout, was more expensive and produced results no different than if it used “first past the post”. He does not include ranked ballots in his recommendations but will report further on this before the next election.
- There were 14,869 eligible voters (the 2016 census gives Cobourg’s population as 19,440)
- 44.4% of females voted and 43.0% of males voted
- 89% of females and 91.3% of males used the Internet to vote (This would have included those who voted at Voter Help Centres)
- 11% of females and 8.7% of males used a phone
- How people voted was broken down by age – roughly 97% of those under 50 voted by Internet and about 80 to 90% of those older.
- The number of people who used Voter Help Centres was not reported
Distribution by date
Below are some “potential improvements” listed in Brent’s report.
The initial list came from MPAC. Staff from Legislative Services then invested a great deal of time cleaning the data and reaching out to landlords. They hosted Voter List Revision sessions and made about 2000 corrections with most of them related to incorrect tenant information. So in addition to urging MPAC to do better, Brent said that “It is evident as it has been in prior years that the Town of Cobourg can no longer solely rely on MPAC for an accurate Voter’s List.” Legislative Services will therefore dedicate a portion of staff time to undertake a continuous review and list-scrubbing activities in order to ensure a higher quality Voter’s List.
Voting Period and Voting Day
Voter Help Centres were set up in Victoria Hall and the Public Library and in six retirement homes. Voters could then use a computer with a mouse or with a touch screen to vote. If needed, corrections to the voters list could be made on the spot.
This was also an opportunity to get feedback. Several people had problems with phone voting; the most common comment to Staff was that electors were not able to vote for all their choices for the ‘At-Large’ selection of Councillor Candidates. The main reason for this was Electors who used the phones were not listening to all of the instructions and where rushing through the process and submitting their ballot when they selected their first choice.
- The voting period be extended by a week. This would allow more time for Special Voter Help Centres (Retirement and Longterm Care Homes).
- Removing the telephone option from the alternative voting method. Only 10% use this method and it would avoid “trying to cater to different listening skills”. Additional Voter Help Centres and an extended time frame would effectively provide a traditional voting method for those without access to a computer.
Some minor improvements would be made to make sure the Town is getting the word out to residents that they need to make sure that they are on the Voter’s List for the 2022 Election earlier in the year and using different modes of communication.
The cost of the election including the Intelivote contract, advertising and marketing, was $37,880. The cost in 2014 was $53,580, in 2010 $52,460 and in 2006 $87,900.