Category Archives: Elections

Ottawa Election Primer: Breaking the Gender Barrier

Democracy is not easy 1There has been a lot of discussion on breaking the gender barrier at Ottawa City Hall with the results of the October 22ndelection.  Currently the council table has four female councillors.  With Marianne Wilkinson retiring the number of female councillors could drop to 3 if no others are elected.  This seems to be very unlikely as there are a number of wards where very strong female candidate are seeking a seat at the table.

Let’s address the one seat that in 2018 will not be filled by a woman, the Mayors chair.  Ottawa will have to wait four years to see if a woman will run for Mayor in 2022.  One name that continues to rise to the conversation is Diane Deans.  If Diane Deans wins re-election next week, 2022 might be the year she officially throws her hat in the ring to replace Jim Watson who I believe will not seek a fourth consecutive term as Ottawa’s Mayor.

In 2018 there is a good opportunity to double the count of women councillors to 8. Here is a run down of what could happen, this post will look at the 23 ward seats only.

The sure bets

Seats in Barrhaven, Somerset are a guaranteed win for incumbents Jan Harder and Catherine McKenney.  An almost sure bet is Diane Deans in Gloucester-Southgate. With these three the count is 3/3 for women councillors.

Guaranteed to have a man in the seat

The following wards will elect a male councillor (because there are no women candidates); Stittsville, Knoxdale-Merivale, Beacon Hill-Cyrville, Rideau Vanier, Rideau Rockcliffe, Kitchissippi, Rideau Goulbourn and Kanata South.  The council table now has 3/11 women councillors around it.

Likely to elect a woman councillor

There are wards that will likely elect a woman. Here I am going to lean towards a positive outcome for the ladies in a tight race.  Innes Ward has three female candidates.  No offence to Francois Trepenier, the three other women candidates are much stronger than he is.  In Ward 22, Gloucester-South Nepean, I don’t see voters passing on Carol Anne Meehan, she should get elected.  We are now up to 5/13 seats having a female councillors.

Likely to elect a male councillor

There a few wards where I expect to have a man elected, where there are female candidates running.  The elected will come from West Carleton-March, Capital, Alta Vista, Cumberland and Osgoode Wards.  The ratio drops to 5/18 with 5 wards left to look at.

Expect to elect a male councillor here

Even with good female candidates running, a male will represent these wards; College and River with the incumbents being re-elected giving council a 5/20 female/male ratio.

I think woman will have a good chance to be elected in these three wards

In Orleans with 17 candidates running, Catherine Kitts is the top woman candidate and she would be a good selection for voters in that ward if the voters wanted a woman councillor.  Kanata North has a 3-way race for the seat; Jenna Suds has as good a chance as David Gourlay and Matt Muirhead to win there.  The final female councillor will come from Bay Ward where Theresa Kavanagh will win the seat her husband Alex Cullen held a few terms ago. With these three ladies, City Council will double the number of female candidates from 4/23 to 8/23 (I have not included the Mayors chair).

With more female candidates, I expect decisions to be made differently.  Committees will also have a different make up which will change how they operate as well. The 8/23 is not 50-50 but it is a good start to smashing the glass ceiling that has been at Ottawa City Council since amalgamation in 2001.

I’ll have one more pre-election blog post on the Ottawa election posted before October 22nd with my look at the new council and who I believe will be sitting around it.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker,@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Advertisements

A Municipal Writ Drop

Amazon.jpg
“Re-election for a winning candidate starts the day after the election”

“Incumbency is an advantage”

“You can’t stop the business of City Hall”

These statements all came out of one tweet.

It is time for municipal elections to have a 28 day writ period. Having the Mayor and Councillors conduct business while campaigning for re-election is a conflict. We have fixed election dates, why not a fixed “writ” period as well.

It’s the rule federally and provincially, there’s an official writ period – a time when MP’s and MPP’s/MLA’s/MNA’s are not “in office”.  But while there are technically no elected representatives, the ‘running’ of the government never stops – not even during an election.  During the writ period elected officials running for re-election do not perform ‘official’ activities. Typically a writ period is between 28 and 36 days. There have been some exceptions though; in the 2015 federal election then Prime Minister Harper invoked a 78-day writ period. The 2006 election that was required because of a non-confidence vote against the Paul Martin government in November 2005 required an 8 week election period to accommodate a two week Christmas and New Year break.  During the break no campaigning took place. Surprising all parties adhered to that!

While fixed election dates are relatively new in federal and provincial elections, municipal elections have had fixed dates for some time.  The fixed dates allow for planning of elections and the planning of keeping the wheels of government turning during the writ periods.  It makes sense that the idea of the writ period is extended to municipal elections.  What has become clear is that without a writ period, any Mayor or Councillor can and does campaign while working.  How does this seem NOT to be a conflict of interest?

The arguments given against a dedicated campaign period include the time development applications have to be addressed.  People also cite the need for representation at the most local level is available at all times and others believe that the city would stop working if there were a writ period.

The writ period would only be 28 days (or so) every four years; I think developers and others can work around that especially since the dates would be clearly noted by the city.  Like federal and provincial elections provisions are made to have at east one person working in the office of the representative. Here in Ottawa, or in any other municipality if you call a Councillors office tomorrow (during the election) someone will answer the phone.  Because the election is on it doesn’t stop the councillor’s or the mayor’s office from talking to residents. Business as usual.

Recent changes altered the registration period for candidates from January 1st to May 1st and subsequently increased the incumbent advantage.  There has to be a time where incumbents cannot use their position to smudge the line between campaign activities and elected official duties.

One only needs to look at the social media accounts of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, he tweets that he has meetings and will attend a gala event (as a Mayor) and have a campaign event (as the Candidate for Mayor) all in ONE tweet.   Jim Watson found in a conflict?

For him and others there is no distinguishing official duty from a campaign activity. In the current Ottawa elections, the mayor has been caught in a conflict where it was seen he was using his elected duties to publicize a campaign announcement and using his social media doing it.

A 28-day writ period will level the playing field for 4 weeks, there would be no openings for the Mayor or Councillor to attend and then share on Facebook.  No Community fairs that would be part of duties as the elected official – just as a candidate looking for votes.  The province short changed challengers with a shorter period for campaigning – reducing the time a Mayor acts as Mayor during the campaign is a tiny consolation.

We ask for transparency in our elected officials every day when they’re in office, for 28 days every four years transparency should be even greater when elected officials are campaigning for re-election. All I suggest is that a 28 day writ period is fair – it works for MP’s and MPP’s and I don’t hear those elected officials complaining.  It should work for Municpalities.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker,@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Democracy is not easy

Democracy is not easy 1Political nomination races and party leadership races are the most divisive events in the life of a political party activist and member. Many who take part in them, as a candidate or a supporter of a candidate live to tell their stories after, but a few drop off the political map and are never heard from again.  For me, that’s the strangest part, the ones that just drop. I get why they might leave, grudges that are not forgotten; unhappiness with the results; and everything in some races, it gets personal.  The ones that drop didn’t anticipate it getting personal – it was all supposed to be easy, just politics.  We have followed examples the last couple of weeks of difficult political decisions based on principle.

The split of Maxime Bernier from the Conservative Party of is well known and was demonstrated twice.  The first was on the opening day of the Conservative Party convention and a second time on the Friday before the return to Ottawa by Members of Parliament.  Bernier announced the founding of the People’s Party of Canada, his party that he will lead into the next federal election next October, or as early as Spring 2019.

Bernier’s fundamental differences with the current political parties are of being ‘voteDemocracy is not easy 2 whipped’ and worrying about politics over people.  He will stand for mainly libertarian values but will accept all into his party, except for people who do not believe on what he hopes to achieve. He has not ruled out those who are disappointed with the NDP joining his party.  To make it clear that it was one of the main reasons for the creation of the PPC, Bernier stood in the House of Commons and asked for unanimous consent that the government policy of supporting Supply Management end. The motion did not receive unanimous consent.

The second and loudest difficult decision came as MP’s returned to the House days after Bernier’s announcement.  A Liberal MP crossed the floor and no one saw it coming.

democrasy is not easy 4Rising on a Point of Privilege in the House during the first hours of house business, Leona Alleslev, the Liberal MP for the riding of Aurora – Oak Ridges – Richmond Hill talked about the silence in which her questions and comments on government policy were answered.  Before she announced her crossing to the opposition Leona Alleslev stated that she serves her constituents, not a political party.  She went further to say that in order to be able to question the government about the issues she felt were important she could not do that from where she was sitting – she had to cross and join the Conservative opposition.  You can watch her speech here: Leona Alleslev crossing over speech

I don’t know Ms. Alleslev, but no one; I mean no one makes that decision without examining the risks and knowing the consequences of the act she was under taking. She leaves the Liberal Party where she had relationships that are likely broken and on the other hand Leona is moving to a party where she has to build new relationships.

The first positive is that she has established camaraderie with conservative leader Andrew Scheer the others will fall in.

This however leaves someone else to consider, another “democracy is not easy” casualty, democracy is not easy 5Costas Menegakis the Conservative Party candidate that lost to Alleslev in 2015 by fewer than 1100 votes. Menegakis had been re-nominated as the conservative candidate in the riding and was at the time of the Alleslev crossing campaigning against her.

My understanding is that Menegakis gladly stepped aside for Ms. Alleslev and will seek the nomination in the neighbouring riding of Richmond Hill, where, as I learned, he was the elected MP in Richmond Hill from 2011 to 2015.  Menegakis ran in the new Aurora – Oak Ridges – Richmond Hill riding in 2015.  In the last election the Liberals took Richmond Hill with a 1757 vote win. The percent difference in Richmond Hill was 3.58% while in the neighbouring riding the Liberals led the CPC by 2.15%.  With Ms. Alleslev as the Conservative MP in Aurora –Oak Ridges – Richmond Hill and Menegakis moving to what conservatives must feel is a winnable seat the CPC could steal two ridings from the
government.

Menegakis must have been shaking his head at the speed at which this happened thinking politics is a game you can never predict. Democracy is certainly never easy.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker,@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Ottawa Election Primer, the final 5

Ottawa Vote 2

In a final instalment in the series, the candidates in the last of the 23 wards will be profiled.  The final five wards are River, Gloucester-Southgate, Kitchissippi, Kanata South and Rideau-Rockcliffe.

 

 

River

Of the wards where a sitting councillor is seeking re-election, River Ward is where I think the likelihood of an incumbent not returning to City Hall will happen. Riley Brockington won the ward in 2014 with 36% of the vote in a field split by nine other candidates. This time around Riley faces only three challengers; Fabien Kalala, Kerrie Keith and Hassib Reda.  My comments aren’t because Brockington hasn’t worked in the community, indeed he has to make roads safer as he has been a loud voice to reduce speeds in front of schools.  My thoughts are due to the quality of candidates he is facing.

All three challengers bring good ideas to the campaign; Fabien, from viewing his priorities, is presenting a socio-economic platform; Hassib has a platform that addresses traditional municipal concerns plus adds banning single use plastics and re-pricing transit fares (to the point of making OC Transpo a money losing city operation).  Kerrie Keith has presented a couple of priorities in her blog. She cites (so far) safe streets and planning around the new Civic hospital site, however she also stresses her use of an electric car and being cycle commuter being reasons to vote for her. If I lived in River ward it wouldn’t convince me to vote for her.

River Ward will be an interesting race, the debates will be where the race will be won or lost so if you live in River Ward don’t miss a single one.

Gloucester-Southgate

All though it never rose above a rumour, Diane Deans’ look at the running for the Mayor’s chair never took place.  But like Tobi Nussbaum in Rideau-Rockcliffe, Deans has found her voice against the ‘what Jim Watson wants, Jim Watson gets’ city leadership and it might be enough to give her an 8thterm on City Council. Her four qualified opponents know just what they are up against. My hope is that Alek Golijanin, Sam Soucy, Robert Swaita and Perry Sabourin learn from this campaign because 2022 just might be the year Deans’ decides to run for Mayor.

Kitchissippi 

In a ward where the sitting Councillor has been bounced after one term for the past four elections, Jeff Leiper may have found the secret to re-election.  Be one with the community.  He faces one other candidate, Daniel Stringer who ran in previous elections but he poses no threat to Jeff Leiper. With a stronger candidate who would promise to battle developers, as Leiper did in 2014, Leiper might have faced the same fate as Katherine Hobbs and Christine Leadman before him.  Alas, Leiper will have four more years to truly battle developers.

Kanata South

If you look at the ward map for Kanata South the one thing that strikes you is just how residentially heavy the ward is. Allan Hubley has been councillor since 2010. and he easily won re-election in 2014.

Issues in Kanata South, are repeated by all four candidates; roads, infrastructure, Transit/LRT and policing.  There are nuances from each.  Hubley promises to continue to the positive change in parks, roads and infrastructure.  Doug Large preaches the 4 R’s; River, Roads, Recreation and Responsibility. Looking to be the ‘community’ candidate Steve Anderson promises to bring a BIA to Kanata South and empower community associations to have a bigger impact on the lives of Kanata South families.  The third challenger is Mike Brown and he is campaigning on better care for Kanata South roads and wants to see greater accountability at city hall for the spending of tax dollars.  Brown is the only candidate that seems to think that 2% tax increases are not viable and wants to review tax increases and evaluate how those tax dollars are allocated in the city budget.

While I haven’t heard much of a roar for change for Kanata South, but that doesn’t mean Hubley is a sure thing.  Anderson, Brown and Large will have to work hard though to take the seat from the incumbent Allan Hubley.

Rideau-Rockcliffe

Another one on one ballot battle is taking place in Rideau-Rockcliffe and also another ballot that see the sitting councillor win re-election.  Councillor Tobi Nussbaum has been a loud advocate for following the city’s development rules and respecting community design plans and respecting a community’s voice.  I thought Nussbaum might be a one-term councillor only because I thought he would give a run at Watson for the Mayor’s chair this year.

Nussbaum’s lone competitor, Peter Heyck may only catch on in the Ward due to his objection to the move of the Salvation Army out of the Byward Market to Montreal Rd but it will not be enough to win.

In the end Nussbaum will take this because he unlike many others around the council table has lost his battles to Jim Watson – but at least he stood up and tried – voters like a person who stands up for what he believes in.

I hope you enjoyed reading this series of posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them for you.  More posts about the Ottawa election are coming. If you have any questions or comments or as a candidate would like a profile on this blog please contact me.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Ottawa Election Primer Part IV

This is my fourth of five in a series about the Ottawa Municipal elections taking place October 22, 2018.

Bay

Bay ward became open when Councillor Mark Taylor honoured his pledge to only sit on council for two terms. The list of candidates includes a School Board Trustee (Theresa Kavanagh), someone who has worked in the financial industry (Erica Dath), a business management consultant (Don Dransfield), a community activist (Marc Lugert) and a 2104 candidate giving it another run (Trevor Robinson). The one person who is not running, but who looms large is former councillor Alex Cullen. He is often sought out by Ottawa media to comment on issues from the ward and Ottawa.

Bay is a ward on the verge of change with LRT moving west to Bayshore and beyond and what could be important redevelopment of Lincoln Fields. But there is the challenge of increased crime in the area – of all the candidates; only Lugert mentions public safety and police services in his campaign priorities. I am sure the others are aware of the problem; the plan not to address it is a curious one especially from Kavanagh whose husband (Cullen) would have had to deal with similar issues.   But that being said, Kavanagh’s eight years on Ottawa Carleton District School Board give her the ‘governing’ experience edge that would get her up and running quickly. However here is but here, Cullen ran in the past two elections and lost to Taylor, in 2018 will voters decide for REAL change and opt for one of the four others running?

Somerset

Somerset is my ‘home’ ward and after running twice as the PC Candidate in the riding that contains Somerset Ward, I know just how tough and “left” this ward is. Catherine McKenney is seeking re-election for the first time since claiming the seat after her former boss Diane Holmes retired. In 2014 she ran away with the win after facing ten opponents. This election cycle there are three challengers, creating an atmosphere that with the right campaign for one of the three to could strongly challenge McKenney. However, the task will be tough as McKenney has the legacy of Diane Holmes in her corner. Can Merdod Zopyrus, Jerry Kovacs or Arthur David mount the campaign needed to win? Zopyrus and David have outlines of their platforms on their websites that provide a glimpse into how their term as Councillor could go.

The problem with Somerset ward, as in other urban wards, is that there are issues a candidate CANNOT be against and in Somerset, of the Candidates I could read up on they all are similar on Green space, development and planning. Zopyrus though does have plans to assist youth and identifies heritage as a key issue for him.

The voters of the ward have a selection of candidates with similar views to choose from. I will wait and see how these campaigns unfold before deciding where to place my “X”.

Osgoode

In an eleven-person race, George Darouze won in 2014 with 21% of the vote. In 2018 the field is narrowed to five candidates, Kim Sheldrick and Mark Scharfe are back and are joined by Auguste Banvalvi and Jay Tysick. Of all the candidates Darouze faces Tysick has the largest profile following a try as a Ontario PC Nomination Candidate, the founding of the Ontario Alliance Party and running in the Ontario election in the riding of Carleton (in which Osgoode Ward is located).

Darouze and Tysick will duke it out. I expect Darouze should win with much more than 21% of the vote.

Alta Vista

There was a time when the Councillor for Alta Vista spoke, the city listened; that was before 2014 when Peter Hume represented the voters of that ward. Since 2014, can anyone tell me when Jean Cloutier has said anything that made the same impact Hume would’ve? Does it matter? Friends I speak to say Cloutier’s soft-spoken approach to the job has made him well liked.

Cloutier’s re-election is being challenged by 5 candidates including two returning candidates; Clinton Cowen who ran in 2010 and 2014 and John Redins who is making a second run for the seat. Jumping in in the 2018 election is Kevin Kit, Mike McHarg and Raylene Lang-Dion. The impressive backgrounds of some of these candidates is let down by the lack of priorities and platform, including from the sitting councillor. I give credit to McHarg for having more ideas than all of the others but in a ward that is heavily residential he does not address taxes, water/sewage fees and roads – these will be priorities of the families that call Alta Vista home.

I guess voters will have to question the candidates at the doors and make their decisions based on that.

Cumberland

Stephen Blais’ recovery from his heart attack in 2013 has rejuvenated his life, he has learned his work life balance – but he still knows how to work for the constituents of Cumberland ward. With two challengers (Cameron Rose Jette and Jensen Boire) in this election Blais should get re-elected as he will continue to work towards an LRT extending to Trim Road in 2023. I expect that if Jette and Boire have good campaigns they will run again in 2022 when Blais may seek a higher seat.

I would like to thank the readers of this blog for their comments stating how much they are enjoying this series of posts. In the next post, I’ll wrap up with the final 5 wards.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

2018 Ottawa Elections, here’s four more wards for you…

Ottawa Vote 2

This is a third in a series about the Ottawa Municipal elections taking place October 22, 2018.  I have covered 10 of the seats around council and in this post I will consider four more. In the last post I mentioned I would write about Kanata North, Bay, Knoxdale-Merivale and Rideau-Vanier wards. I am going to make a small change and save Bay Ward for next week and talk about Capital ward, as something recently happened that could have an impact on both the sitting Councillor and the Mayor.

Kanata North

Kanata North supposedly was to be vacant in 2014, Marianne Wilkinson had alluded to the fact that she was done, she then changed her mind and what could have been an interesting race turned into a re-election romp.  This election Wilkinson is out, at least she is not running.

I have a belief that elected officials that are not seeking re-election should stay quiet and not get involved in the race for their replacement. In Kanata North Wilkinson has endorsed Jenna Sudds – however that does not guarantee a victory for Wilkinson’s favourite.  Kanata North with the incumbent Wilkinson out has a good list of candidates to replace her.   There are five names on the ballot in Kanata North.  Matt Muirhead is back for his third attempt at the seat. The profile names on the ballot however are David Gourley and Jenna Sudds; Gourley is no stranger to the goings on at City Hall having worked in Mayor Watson’s office and Sudds is the first Executive Director of the Kanata North BIA, stepping down to run for council.

From the outside looking in (from the downtown core) it looks to be a Gourley and Sudds race and likely a Watson machine vs. a Wilkinson machine type of campaign.  May the best political machine win!

Knoxdale-Merivale

Unless residents of Knoxdale-Merivale are extremely unhappy with Ottawa roads, potholes, the upcoming delays in LRT and other transportation issues the quiet Keith Egli may just as quietly keep his seat.

Unlike 2014, when Egli faced one challenger, this election sees four others that want to represent the ward.  Back after sitting out 2014 is James Dean who, according to his website compares the current tax policy of the current council to that of a Ford Pinto. He says that council has cut services to pay more than $200 Million for the city debt, that the cuts will cause trouble for the city as citizens lose the services and programs they rely on. The current 2% tax policy may blow up and hurt the city if the debate on services vs. tax hikes continues to be won by a cap on taxes that according to Dean unfairly increases burden of the tax debt on taxpayers.  Unlike James Dean, the two other candidates have not fully laid out their plans for the city though transparency, tax spending and their community involvement are mentioned.

Though Egli has serviced the ward competently for two terms and incumbents are tough to defeat, of the three challengers James Dean has the best opportunity to shake things up in Knoxdale-Merivale.

Rideau Vanier

Was Mathieu Fleury in a sophomore slump in the first half of his second term as the Rideau Vanier councillor?  If he had been he must be extremely happy that the arrangement to move the Salvation Army to Montreal Road from the By-Ward market can along.  In it he found a voice for an issue that has united Vanier communities and has shown Fleury is someone who will fight Mayor Watson.   Since the inception of the SOS Vanier campaign, Fleury has lent his name to the fight and has spoken publicly about the Mayor giving public support for the move before the application from the Salvation Army was off the printer and emailed to the city planning committee.

While being able to show he will fight for Vanier, Vanier also is home to many qualified community activists that choose to fun for council come election time.  This time around Fleury has fewer challengers, and of the three other candidates only Thierry Harris seems capable of mounting a challenge that could topple Fleury come October 22nd. Will Fleury and SOS Vanier be the one thing that saves him and keeps him fighting Watson for another 4 years?

Capital

Long ago, Capital ward was where Jim Watson was first elected to the old un-amalgamated Ottawa City Council.  So it makes sense that the ward still holds a special place in his heart.  This was demonstrated a few weeks ago when Capital ward candidate Shawn Menard acted, along with other community members to save century trees from being cut down. The city was expected to issue the cut permit by mid-august.  With no action from City Hall being taken Menard took up the fight and started a petition to prevent the cut.  In his actions, Menard seems to have awoken Watson and David Chernushenko, the current councillor.  In a series of tweets on August 8th, the Mayor and Councillor celebrated the saving of the trees while ignoring the work that Menard did on bringing the issue forward.

With three other candidates vying for the seat, they will have to so something short of canvassing while standing on their heads to take the attention away from a Chernushenko vs. Menard race.  Chernushenko doesn’t make the loudest noise at council and the voters in the ward want the same type of leadership that Watson gave them as a councillor in the 80’s Menard could be joining the current “Urban Caucus” of Leiper, McKenney, Fleury and Tobi Nussbaum, which would certainly turn the volume up on urban issues.

With this post you now have my thoughts on 14 of 24 races.  My next Ottawa Election Primer will focus on Bay, Somerset, Alta Vista, Cumberland and Osgoode Wards.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Death of the Paper Ballot?

Internet voting.

Remember how well it went when the Ontario PC’s used it to select Doug Ford as their leader?  Remember how Canada Post admitted that thousands of PINS and Ballots were not delivered so party members couldn’t vote? Consider that in the 2018 municipal elections across Ontario, as more municipalities will be conducting their elections by Internet and phone only – NO PAPER BALLOTS.

Internet VotingIn 2014 sixty-one municipalities in Ontario went to paperless balloting.  Another 36 used a combination of electronic and paper ballots.  Almost 25% of Ontario municipalities embraced the future of voting. There are several reasons for dumping the paper ballot, one was that it would increase voter turnout.  Did it? The Internet Voting Project hopes to be able to answer some questions on eVoting.  The project tracked the results of the 97 municipalities that took part in the eVoting in the 2014 elections.  In 2018 there will be more municipalities joining in on the age of Internet voting.

The Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) has been monitoring the voter turnout in municipal elections.  The 2014 voter turnout average  (AMO 2014 Voter Turnout) was 43.12%. The winner with the highest turnout of 86.63% was Latchford ON and Pembroke ON scored lowest at 15.81%.  In 2006 turnout was 44.35%, looking back to 1982* had 48% voter turnout – its been going down hill since then.  1997 and 2003 own a low 40% voter turning average AMO Voter turnout .

In 2014 the Town of Leamington went Internet voting only, it was the first municipality in Ontario to do so, effectively dumping mail in ballots used in the previous election.  That election in Leamington there was no phone voting and not a ballot box to be found.  In 2014 election voter turnout saw a 42% of eligible voters casting a ballot through their keyboards, down from the 50% voter turnout in previous elections – not what was expected.  A larger concern though was a delay in the results being announced.  Candidates had to wait 2.5 hours for their results, 2 hours longer than expected or promised by the vendor.  The City of Leamington expects to have that issue resolved for October 22nd.  Perhaps, in response to the unexpected lower turnout, the city is offering phone voting along with Internet voting to its residents in 2018.

Even with the issues of the 2014 election in Leamington, a 2015 survey (Online Voting Survey) reported that 98% of municipal voters would vote online again.  The survey also indicated that as many as 95% of voters wanted other elections to offer online voting.  Looking back at what happened with the Ontario PC Leadership voting is that going to happen? If Canada Post couldn’t get the needed PINS and other information to every PC Party member how realistic to suggest that Canada Post would be able to meet the demands of a larger number of voters relying on the delivery of their PINS by snail mail?  As much as Canadians want they want Internet voting, Canadians want to know there voting system is secure.  If it isn’t secure, they won’t vote.

Is the solution that if you’re going vote using your computer, it should be natural to receive a ballot PIN by email? Would voters feel secure enough to receive this important information via the Internet?  Will suggested meddling in elections by countries outside of Canada be enough to pull the Ethernet cord on that idea?

Can governments gain the enough trust of the voters to consider dumping the paper ballot?

While municipally, the fate of the paper ballot is pretty well sealed, it will be a slow fade for the “marking of an X” in larger elections until governments can give the 100% guarantee that no meddling will occur.  Based on what we’ve heard recently from Facebook about foreign influence affecting the US 2018 mid-term elections it appears voting screens and ballot boxes are still going to be around for some time.

It’s important to keep in mind that the reason for the in use of eVoting was to increase voter turnout, make it easier to vote. Does making it easier to vote meangreater voter engagement?  All eVoting will do and was meant to do was make it easier to vote. It doesn’t facilitate engagement; people need to facilitate political engagement.

You want to have an increase of voter turnout? Increase true political engagement.  That doesn’t mean catchy slogans about the weather and it doesn’t mean throwing mud at political opponents.  Making it easy to vote is one thing making it easy to give Canadians a reason to vote is something completely different.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net