Should we still use a pencil or can we now click here?


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In the last municipal vote, a paltry 39% of eligible voters bothered to cast their ballot in what proved to be a bitter mayoral showdown.
The anybody-but-Barwick election of 2010 should have been motivation enough to flood the polling booths after one of the nastiest campaigns in many years.
But, when little more than a third of voters participate, you know the system is broken, or worse, irrelevant.
Is it a case of constituents who are so weary of lies and deception at all levels of government?
Do young people — especially those voting for the first time — feel politicians of all stripes are not reaching out to them?
Or, is it overall apathy on the part of voters who have given up at having their concerns dealt with?

Council will attempt to turn the corner Monday when it deals with a report from CAO Wendell Graves on the best method of casting our ballots in October.
The traditional paper ballot is the mainstay in St. Thomas and, based on the advice to council from Graves, it will continue to be on this trip to the polls.
He is, however, opening the door to online voting in advance polls only and strongly steering council away from voting by mail because of the cost — an estimated $140,000 as compared to the $57,000 spent in 2010.
As for internet voting, that would require entering into a contract with a third-party provider at an estimated cost of $30,000 for a limited advance vote only this year.
How does it work?
Voters receive a secure, password protected voting package which they use to log onto a secure voting site to cast their ballots. Once a vote is cast, it is maintained in a secure environment that becomes part of the overall tabulation of the results at the end of the voting period.
If they desire, voters can receive an electronic confirmation their vote has been cast. Once an individual has cast a vote, their name is electronically crossed off the list and they are unable to cast another ballot.
Reader Dave Mathers checks in on the T-J website with this observation.
“The world is changing. People used to come to town in horses and buggies. Our predecessors could never have imagined cell phones, the internet, GPS, microwaves, online posting, etc., but they are today’s reality. Online voting is coming, make no mistake about that, so one can either embrace it or reject it.”
Do you embrace such an electronic system? Or, voting by mail or phone?
Or is the ballot box and paper voting slip — the city’s tried and trusted system of choice — destined to endure further into the digital age?
City Scope values your input. Check in with your suggestions at the address below.

STATE OF THE UNION
Seeing as this is the first meeting of a new year — the final year of term for this council — the proceedings will kick off with Mayor Heather Jackson’s address to council and the city.
It’s an opportunity to reflect on the highlights of last year and project ahead as to what remains to be done to accomplished by this council.
Not that she would ever stoop to this, but what a glorious chance to discreetly hint at whether re-election is in the cards.

FISCAL REALITY
With a whopping infrastructure deficit, police station rehabilitation project, the missing-in-action skateboard park, increased security costs at the new consolidated courthouse and promised financial support for the hospital expansion, are any members of council — or hopefuls in the October municipal vote for that matter — campaigning on a zero per cent hike in taxes platform?

NEITHER SNOW NOR RAIN
Nor bitterly cold Arctic air we may not experience again for many years hold back the Canada Post carriers in St. Thomas.
While others conceded to The Big Chill, letter carriers in St. Thomas toughed it out and made good on mail delivery, in spite of the dangerous -35 C wind chill.
And that earned them warm praise from our online readers.
“Letter carriers are awesome,” enthused David Guertin.
“Our mail carrier was here even earlier than usual! I was amazed that they were out,” added Lisa Lacey.
Heather Robinson writes, “They are troopers!! We appreciate it.”
“Oh wow!!! I feel so much for them!! This is not fair. We can all wait for our mail!!,” asserts Courtnee Golem-Campbell.
A job well done under the most trying of circumstances.

TAKING BETS
For John Dewancker over in the engineering department at city hall, the re-opening of Sunset Drive can’t come soon enough.
It’s been a nightmarish five months for him and no one is praying harder for the roadway to reopen before the end of the month.
Is it safe to begin the countdown, John?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I saw a letter carrier help a lady from her car to the front door yesterday…..awesome!! I’m sure we could all wait an extra day for our mail….but there are some who would complain about that too so they can’t win!”
Kathy Gilchrist, with high praise for the city’s letter carriers who soldiered on through last week’s Big Chill and didn’t miss a delivery.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

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2 thoughts on “Should we still use a pencil or can we now click here?

  1. Why change what’s not broken? Do not doubt the data will be used for more than just a vote tally. Better make sure you voted for the winner for those who did not may find themselves treated as second-class citizens.

  2. Until the people who run for elected office become worthy to vote for, more people will decline their right to vote. Voting by mail, phone, or Internet, will not stop the decline in people casting votes.

    Even though 39% of eligible voters bothered to cast their ballot in the last municipal vote, a council and mayor were elected. Even if less than 1% of eligible voters cast their ballot in a municipal vote, a council and mayor will still be elected. How sad is it when a council and mayor can be elected with only a voter turnout of 39%? Yet, that is how the electoral system is setup, so that politicians can never lose.

    If the ballot included a check box for “None of the above”, I am sure that voter turnout would increase by quite a bit. If two people were running for mayor, and the majority of voters checked “None of the above”, what does that say about the quality of those running for mayor?

    When I say “people who run for elected office become worthy to vote for”, think of the people you’d like to emulate or would want your kids to see as role models. Are any of them politicians? Currently sitting politicians?

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