Guelph, Ont., February 4, 2021 – A report to Council recommends mail-in ballots in addition to in-person ballots for the 2022 municipal election. Council will discuss the report at a special meeting scheduled for February 17 at 6 p.m.
“COVID-19 has really highlighted the need for an alternative remote voting option,” says Jennifer Slater, manager and deputy clerk with the City’s Clerk’s Office. “Voting by mail allows secure remote voting that upholds the integrity of an election.”
The report does not recommend internet voting which was chosen by the community as their preferred method during online engagement conducted in November/December 2020. Just over 65 per cent of survey respondents chose internet voting as their preferred method.
Despite community support, recent experience during 2018 municipal elections suggests that current internet voting systems may not have the level of stability they need to instill trust. The quality of voters’ list data further complicates seamless delivery of internet voting. Staff’s recommendation was also formed by researching which methods other comparator municipalities have used and their success, analyzing technology used in elections and taking into account staff expertise.
“Armed with more information about the risks, we believe the technology and standards around its use need to evolve further before we recommend this type of balloting again,” explains Slater.
Telephone voting, the third option considered, uses the internet voting system as the underlying platform to receive and count votes, causing the same concerns.
The City Clerk’s Office will refer to the results of recent community engagement in relation to future input before the 2026 municipal election as it continues to assess the ongoing development and security of internet voting.
Voting methods were also meant to be reviewed alongside voting systems—first-past-the-post and ranked balloting—however, Bill 218, Supporting Ontario’s Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, removed the option of ranked ballot elections for 2022.
Residents may register to delegate at the meeting by phone or submit their comments in writing online by February 12, 2021 at 10 a.m.
Jennifer Slater, Manager/Deputy City Clerk
Information, Privacy and Elections, City Clerk’s Office
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2605