12,800 citizens of Guelph voted online for the candidate of their choice in 2014. 33% of the overall votes cast. Yet if what occurred today at the Council Committee meeting stays the same for the next ratifying vote of Council on April 24th, you won’t be able to continue to vote this way in 2018.
Let that sink in. 7 votes today have the potential to prevent how 13,000 citizens voted in 2014, and how likely thousands more would choose to vote in the future.
More and more municipalities are moving to secure online voting or expanding it in the next election. They recognize it as bringing about accessibility and choice for our local democracies. Many consider it a factor in increasing voter turnout.
Our staff and returning officer (city clerk) indicated that there’s a responsibility to make elections as accessible as possible and online voting helps accomplish this. The staff report was excellent. In fact the data and surveys done prove that many were going to use it in 2018. It also helps address the initiative to create tools to encourage younger voters to vote. See here:
Ward 1 Councillor Bell
Ward 2 Councillor Gordon
Ward 3 Councillors Hofland and Allt
Watd 4 Councillor Salisbury
Ward 5 Councillor Piper
Ward 6 Councillor Wettstein
Please consider emailing them (be respectful), or use firstname.lastname@example.org to tell them your thoughts on their decision before April 24th. If you wish, feel free to tell me if you agree, or disagree, by emailing me here: email@example.com
As the Mayor and Head of Council, I am only allowed my opinion before a final vote of Council is taken on an issue. So here it is:
For a city that touts how progressive we are, that embraces technology to modernize our services and our Open Government ideals, that supports every effort to be more accessible and make things easier for our citizens. Eliminating the option of online voting is a step backwards.
The communication I’ve received over the past few hours on this decision is overwhelmingly against what the committee is currently recommending.
For now we’ll have to wait to see what happens on April 24th.