With lively races shaping up for both the mayor's chair and the six councillor spots around the Elliot Lake City Council table this year, members of the Elliot Lake Accessibility Advisory Committee plan to look next week at a number of remote voting options which could be put in place in time for next October's municipal election.
At their meeting next Tuesday afternoon, deputy clerk and accessibility coordinator Amanda Laurence will provide the committee with several suggestions aimed at expanding balloting as part of the advance poll.
It's the responsibility of city clerk Natalie Bray to make sure the needs of electors with disabilities are considered and that every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot.
"The clerk’s department works closely with both persons with disabilities and the organizations that represent them to identify and remove barriers to voting and make the city’s elections more inclusive and accessible," Laurence wrote in her report to the committee.
Earlier this year council adopted a bylaw to support the use of vote by mail, special ballot and home visit voting as alternative voting methods.
Providing any or all of those is up to Bray and the time is short since procedures need to be in place by June 1.
Vote by mail is considered a remote voting option that applies to voters with no access to a voting location due to mobility limitations, those who are out of town for work or attending to personal matters on voting days, or dealing with health concerns.
The special ballot would allow voters to come to city hall at a pre-determined time and date for voting, Monday through Friday.
A third option, home visit voting, is a pilot program offered by Elections Ontario and Elections Canada but municipalities are not required to participate.
Still, home visit has been adopted in Sault Ste. Marie and Guelph, now available in those communities through a registration process.
With that in mind, the clerk wants input on alternative voting procedures from the Accessibility Advisory Committee.
If you want to weigh in, a recent change that put a public comment section on each committee agenda allows people to give their take on agenda items.
It means those who feel the Accessibility Committee should be more publicly accessible, including providing streamed meetings and other forms of participation, can contact council members about it.
Their email addresses available on the City of Elliot Lake website.
You can access Tuesday's meeting agenda here