Report CPCLK13-018 – 2014 Municipal Election Voting Methods
TO:Members of Committee of the Whole
FROM:John Kennedy, City Clerk
MEETING DATE:November4, 2013
Alternative Voting Methods for the 2014 Municipal Election
A report to recommend that vote-tabulating equipment and alternative methods of voting be authorized for use in the City of Peterborough Municipal Election on October 27, 2014.
That Council approve the recommendations outlined in report CPCLK13-018 dated November4, 2013, of the City Clerk, as follows:
That a By-law be passed to allow the following methods to continue to be used for the October 27, 2014 Municipal Election:
a)Optic Scan Tabulation Equipment and Internet Voting technology and,
b)Proxy Voting and,
c)Advance Voting, with dates and times subject to a future By-law.
BUDGET AND FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS
Any portion of the 2014 Election costs that cannot be accommodated within the $515,000 set asidein the 2014 budget can be drawn from the Election Reserve.
Use Same Methods As Previous Elections With Improvements To How They Are Used
The 2014 Municipal Election will be held Monday October 27, 2014 and City staff, led by the City Clerk, have commenced the detailed planning and preparation required for Election Day.
Through this report,staff recommendthe continued use ofOptic Scan Tabulation Equipment, Internet Voting, Proxy Voting, and Advance Voting. These methods have worked reasonably well in the past, but improvements can be made. As set out in this report, we address some obvious short comings of the past electionsand propose some changes.
The Municipal Elections Act, 1996 - overriding legislation
The Municipal Elections Act, 1996 (The Act) is the overriding legislation that dictates many of the election requirements.
Section 42(1) of The Act provides that the council of a local municipality may pass
(a)authorizing the use of voting and vote-counting equipment such as voting machines, voting recorders or optical scanning vote tabulators;
(b)authorizing electors to use an alternative voting method, such as voting by mail or by telephone, that does not require electors to attend at a voting place in order to vote.
Section 42(5) of The Act establishes that Advance Voting (Section 43) and Voting Proxies (Section 44) may be used in conjunction with alternate voting methods where the by-law passed for alternate voting methods specifies such authorization.
As staff are recommending Optic Scan Tabulation Equipment, Internet Voting, Proxy Voting, and Advance Voting be used in the 2014 election, by-laws must be passed prior to the election in order to be able to use the methods.
A brief description of each method follows.
Optic Scan Tabulation Equipment
Optic Scan Tabulating equipment has been used effectively in previous elections in the City of Peterborough.
With the use of this equipment, vVoters present their voting card, which is scanned by the voting clerk. This “scan” is linked electronically to the “real-time” voters list. All computers in all voting stations are linked to this one master voting list. Once a registered elector votes, the system prevents the same voter from voting a second time.
Electors fill out their paper ballot and the ballot is inserted by staff in the feeder of the optic scanning equipment. The vote is immediately processed and the elector is advised by the Machine Operator whether their vote is “counted”, or deemed to have an error or over-voted. The elector then has the option to correct their ballot and attempt to have it scanned again. This is an important feature as, with the traditional method of voting, there was no way to advise the voter if the vote had an error or would not be counted.
These machines allow for dual-sided scanning, flexible ballot sizes, and have the capability to store ballot images in non-volatile memory for fast and accurate post-event assessment or for a potential recount. In the event of a power failure, existing election data will not be compromised and voting can continue through an auxiliary ballot compartment on the ballot box. These optical tabulators are compact in size, lightweight, portable and durable, making them perfect for poll-level deployments with a high frequency of voters.
Another important feature is that results can be tabulated quickly after the voting location closes which allows for quick election result announcements.
Staff recommend that Optic Scan Technology once again be used for the 2014 Municipal Election.
Accessible Voting Equipment at some Polls
Optical Scanning equipment also allows electors with special needs to vote independently. An audio ballot function accommodates electors with visual impairments. Electors with low dexterity can opt to use paddles to cast their vote. A sip and puff interface is also available for electors.
This technology was used in 2010 at one voting location.
Staff recommendAccessible Voting Equipment be used at one voting location during the 2014 election.
Internet voting provides a remote, convenient method to vote, it serves groups with special needs, mobility issues, and other individuals unable to attend traditional voting stations for various reasons. Residents can cast a vote at their convenience, from anywhere they can connect to the Internet. Benefits to this alternative method of voting may include increased accessibility, increased voter participation, voter convenience, and less reliance on proxy voting.
How long has Internet Voting been used
The City of Peterborough was one of the first municipalities in Canada to offer Internet voting. Since implementation, its use and acceptance within our community has continued to grow. In 2010, 3951 voters voted via the internet - 16.3% of electors who cast a ballot in the City of Peterborough, up from the 13.9% that did so in 2006.
In Ontario the acceptance and use of Internet voting by municipalitiesalso continues to grow. According to the AMCTO Post-Electoral Survey (2011) Peterborough was one of thirty (30) Ontario municipalities that successfully used Internet voting in 2010, up from nine (9) that used it in 2006. Municipalities looking to use Internet voting in 2014 include, but not limited to: Burlington, Guelph, Markham, Oshawa, Port Hope, and Sudbury.
The use of Internet voting in the City of Peterborough was recognized as a best practiceby the City of Ottawa in a report on eGovernment, issued on April 30, 2008.
A Comparative Assessment of Electronic Voting (2010) prepared for Elections Canada, also recognized the successes the City of Peterborough has had with Internet voting and noted that the only drawback was that it was limited to advance polls.
The City of Peterborough used Dominion Voting to provide Internet voting services for the 2006 and 2010 elections.A complete external audit was performed for the City of Peterborough against the Internet voting system in 2006 and again in 2010 by an external auditing firm. In both instances, they conducted testing on all of the components and provided confirmation that the system used was effective with minimal security risk. If council concurs with the recommendations an external audit would be conducted for the 2014 election to ensure Internet voting is secure and integral.
Dominion Voting was retained to conduct the Federal Liberal leadership race in the spring of this year. Over 100,000 voters cast their ballot using the Internet. While attempts were made to hack the system, none were successful.
Changes planned to improve use of Internet Voting for 2014
Today many people use the Internet to bank, shop, pay bills, or conduct other forms of business online. These services are not only accessed on personal computers, but also on tablets and smartphones. The success of such e-services has reached the point where its availability is expected by most.
Whereas Internet voting was only possible on desktops and laptops in the previous election, for 2014 people will be able to vote using any device connected to the Internet including tablets and smartphones.
Staff is also committed to reducing wait times between registering to vote online, and receiving confirmation and authorization emails before you can actually vote online. In the previous election the two step process required waiting for an email confirmation that could take a day or two and then having to go back on line to vote. During the 2010 Election, 1288 people (17.6%)that registered to vote online did not complete their ballot.
It is proposed for 2014, this two step process be improved. Internet voting will be more immediate by automatingthe PIN process, enabling people tovote over the Internet on Election Day.
Voting by proxy allows individuals who may not be able to vote via the Internet and are unable to attend a physical voting location, either on advance voting dates or on Election Day, to cast a ballot. Proxy voting is an important tool to ensure that no individual is disenfranchised.
Although few individuals used proxy voting in the 2010 election, it is recommended that proxy voting continue to be used in the 2014 Municipal Election.
Advance Voting at City Hall and other advance polling locations accounted for 8.8%(2131)of votes cast during the last election. Combined with Internet voting, the number of electors taking advantage of advance voting opportunities was 25.1%(6082) in 2010.
Advance voting provides a convenient, accessible way for electors to cast a paper ballot ahead of Election Day. It also alleviates congestion and reduces wait times by providing additional days and times for electors to vote.
It is recommended the City of Peterborough continue to offer advance voting opportunities.
Pursuant to Section 43(1) of The Act, Council will approve dates and times for advance polls in a subsequent report.
Approval of this Report merely establishes Council’s desire to hold Advance voting.
Walk In Polls
In 2003, the City of Peterborough had 99 polls in 38 voting locations. For 2006 and 2010 there were 108 polls in 18 voting locations. In 2010, the city had approximately 141 staff (63 external) in place on Election Day. Voting locations were amalgamated to make the process easier for electors. Sites were also carefully selected based on new accessibility standards.
At the same time Special Polls operated on reduced hours to cater to the unique requirements of electors inlocal retirement residences, long-term care facilities, and the Peterborough Regional Health Centre. Since 2003 there have been 15-16 Special Polls set up that typically serve between 700-800 electors. Staff will continue with such voting locations.
Steps to reduce line ups
During the two previous elections, some voters and some candidates expressed concerns about wait times at voting locations.To help address those concerns for the 2014 election, more staff will be placed at the busier polling stations and a few more polling stations will be used. That could lead to as many as 140 additional staff being required. Staff are also considering streamlining the process required to make changes to the onsite voters list to eliminate the need for completing paper forms that then need to be keyed into the voter list.
Staff may also add additional voting locations to increase capacity.
Vote Anywhere Technology
Vote Anywhere Technology allows an elector to walk into any voting location – whether it bein their ward, close to home, work, or most convenient to them – and vote.
A digital List of Electors allows any elector to walk into any voting location and to be instantaneously struck off the same electronic list throughout the city.
During the 2010 election 3462 people (19.9%) cast votes outside of their ward at a Voting Location on Election Day.
It is recommended that the City of Peterborough utilize the Optical Scan Tabulation Equipment and Vote Anywhere Technology again in the 2014 Municipal Election.
Improving customer service initiatives to improveease of access for voters on Election Day isa priority for staff.
A modest addition of voting locationsand the use of more staffwill reduce wait times, and improve the voting process on Election Day.
Staff recommendbuilding on our successes in past elections by adopting a by-law to allow the continued use of Internet Voting and Optic Scan Tabulator Equipment, while also authorizing the use of Proxy Voting andAdvance Voting in the 2014 municipal election.
Phone: 705-742-7777 Ext. 1799
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Appendix A – Alternative Voting Methods By-law