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Remote options to be discussed by Council for fall municipal election

With potential Council seats up for grabs, officials are hopeful for a larger voter turnout
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In about six months, people in Elliot Lake will go to the polls to elect a new city council and school board trustees.

Thus, Elliot Lake city clerk Natalie Bray will present a report to council this week outlining a game plan for municipal voting, which will happen on Oct. 24, 2022.

Post COVID-19, voter turnout this year can be expected to be higher than usual due to increased interest following anticipated dropouts by incumbents who are not expected run again.

Coun. Ed Pearce is the only present member to publicly announce his withdrawal so far, although at least two others are expected to follow suit.

This would set up a race that will bring several new faces to council chambers after the new group is sworn into office next December.

With a significant percentage of the electorate continuing to exercise COVID-19 protocols, there are plans to make casting ballots more convenient, but not by adding e-voting to the mix this time out.

Bray will present her voting systems and alternative voting methods at a special meeting of council called for Tuesday night.

In her report, she will outline vote by mail, home voting and special ballot as alternative voting methods in the 2022 vote.

The plan is to use vote-counting equipment such as voting machines, voting recorders or optical scanning vote tabulators; as well as authorizing electors to use an alternative voting method that does not require them to attend a voting place in order to vote. 

Remote voting options include vote by mail, internet voting or vote by phone. 

"All eligible voters should have the ability to cast their own ballot should they choose to do so," Bray said in her report. "Offering in-person voting only does not meet this goal."

Of the three remote options, the clerk's office recommends that vote by mail be approved for use as a pilot program in the 2022 municipal election.

An increase of in-person voting days and times to compliment the advanced voting period are planned as a Special Ballot. 

Voters would be able to attend at city hall and vote Monday to Friday on a date and time convenient to them, during a specified period.

A home visit program pilot is also being considered and offered by Canada and Ontario; however, it is not required municipally. 

Following other municipal examples in the Sault Ste Marie and Guelph, this program would require registration and have set criteria for who could request this service.

For vote by mail, the estimated a cost of approximately $4,000 to support 500 voters. 

The meeting will be livestreamed on the city's website Tuesday at 7 p.m.


About the Author: Brent Sleightholm

As a reporter, Brent has covered everything from amateur and professional sports, to politics, entertainment, police and courts, to human interest stories and government issues
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