Meaford's Clerk, Rob Tremblay submitted a report to council this week outlining the final assessment of the recently completed municipal election.
According to Tremblay's report, the cost of the election came in under budget by $6,000. The budget for the election was $55,000, and Tremblay says that the total estimated expenditures were $49,000. Some of the $6,000 election budget surplus will be used for council orientation as well as the inaugural meeting of the newly elected council, while the remainder can be held in the election reserve fund for 2018.
While this was Meaford's first experience with electronic voting, Tremblay says that Meaford wasn't alone in using that voting method this year.
“A total of 96 municipalities utilized telephone and internet voting for the 2014 election, some in combination with other methods or for advanced voting,” wrote Tremblay in his report.
Some fear had been expressed prior to the election that the electronic voting method, which provided the option of voting by telephone, or online, would deter older voters from casting their ballots, however the data suggests that Meaford's older voters managed to vote without issue.
“Fifty per cent turnout was achieved in keeping with historical participation since amalgamation. Despite concerns that the voting method may reduce participation by seniors, data provided generally shows above average turnout for electors 50 years of age and older,” said Tremblay in his report.
In fact, voters between the ages of 65 to 85 had a voter turnout of roughly 60 percent, significantly higher than the overall voter turnout.
Tremblay says that approximately 75 percent of the votes were cast online, while the remaining 25 percent were cast by phone.
While this year's election saw a solid voter participation, and came in under budget, it was not without its problems. A small number of voter letters were not received, and some had difficulty accessing the voting website due to a missing 's' in the web address.
“The Preliminary List of Electors is prepared by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). Despite efforts to remove duplicate and deceased electors, some issues continue with regard to the accuracy of the list, including some missing or inaccurate date of birth information, spelling of names, erroneous mailing address information, as well as missing, duplicate or moved electors. Issues with the Voters’ List are faced by all municipalities no matter the voting method. Issues were minimal and addressed in a timely manner,” reported Tremblay. “A challenge faced at the beginning of the 11-day voting period involved users not inputting the entire web address contained in the voter information letter in the address field or inputting it in the search field. The address for internet voting was initially not publicized for security purposes. A direct link was later provided on www.meafordvotes.ca and other sites to assist voters.”