Municipal Election 2018, what you should know about voting
Tim Brody - Editor
Voting is underway for the 2018 Municipal Council and School Board Elections.
The voting period began on October 13 at 10 a.m. and runs through to October 22 at 8 p.m.
Voters will be asked to select a mayor and five councillors-at-large to represent them for the next four years. Don Fenelon has already been acclaimed as the Ward 1 (Hudson) Councillor. All school board trustee positions (English Public, English Separate, French Public, and French Separate) have also been acclaimed.
Voting this year will be done by telephone or Internet.
Community members can learn more about how to vote using these methods by viewing the video below from the Municipality’s YouTube channel.
Additionally, the Municipal Clerk’s Office has prepared and mailed out a list of 20 most frequently asked questions. Even more voting facts (FAQs) are available on the Municipality of Sioux Lookout’s election website, https://www.siouxlookout.ca/en/your-local-government/2018-municipal-election.asp.
“The FAQs were developed based on the experiences of other municipalities who have previously employed the telephone/internet voting method, from questions that were posed by Members of Council during deliberations as to the viability of using this voting method, and from members of the public who were randomly selected and asked to provide their comments, questions and concerns relating to the telephone/internet voting method,” Municipal Manager of Corporate Services/Municipal Clerk and Returning Officer Brian P. MacKinnon explained, adding, “we are more than happy to answer any other questions that may not have been covered in our FAQs.”
MacKinnon shared the top three questions, comments and/or concerns that have been raised, to date, regarding the 2018 Municipal Elections and provided responses to them:
1. I don’t have a telephone or access to the Internet – OR – I am uncomfortable using either of the available voting methods – OR – I have a visual or auditory impairment which makes both of these voting methods challenging for me. The Clerk’s Office has arranged for the following Remote Voting Locations during the voting period, which will be staffed by Election Assistants who have been trained in providing assistance in the voting process:
Sioux Lookout Municipal Office, 25 Fifth Avenue, Clerk’s Department, during regular business hours, for the full Voting Period: 10:00 a.m., Saturday, October 13 to 8:00 p.m., Monday, October 22 (Voter Help Centre; public voting available)
Sioux Lookout Public Library, 21 Fifth Avenue, Community Media Room, during regular business hours, for the full Voting Period: 10:00 a.m., Saturday, October 13, to 8:00 p.m., Monday, October 22 (Voter Help Centre; public voting available)
Sioux Area Seniors Activity Centre, 66 Front Street, Back Room, Wednesday, October 17, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (Members and public)
Cole Terrace, 62 Princess Street, Wednesday, October 17, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., Common Room (tenants only)
Sioux Towers, 33 Third Avenue, Wednesday, October 17, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (tenants only)
Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre, 55 King street, Thursday, October 18, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (public)
Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, 1 Meno Ya Win Way (off Seventh Avenue), Thursday, October 18, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (patients only)
William A. “Bill” George Extended Care Unit, 75 Fifth Avenue, Friday, October 19, 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Lobby (ECU residents only)
Patricia Plaza, 30 Third Avenue, Friday, October 19, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Common Room (tenants only)
“It is important to note that the Election Assistants cannot physically help an elector to vote. The Election Assistants will answer questions regarding the voting methods, cue-up the Internet voting platform or dial the toll-free voting telephone number, to the point where the elector is required to enter his/her PIN and year of birth. From this point forward, the elector is responsible for selecting and confirming their choices for mayor and councillors-at-large,” MacKinnon explained, noting, “The reason for this arms-length separation is to ensure the integrity and secrecy of the voting process.” MacKinnon went on to explain that all Election staff have taken an Oath, confirming that they will not interfere or attempt to influence any voter. Similarly, anyone attending one of the Remote Voting Locations or either of the Voter Help Centres (Municipal Office and Library) to provide assistance to a friend or family member to vote, will also be required to take an Oath.
2. I haven’t received a Voter Instructions Letter – what should I do? “Any elector who has not yet received a Voter Instructions Letter, which contains information on how and when to vote, as well as a PIN number that is required to access either the telephone or internet voting platform, should contact the Municipal Office. If you are not on the Voters List, you will have to be added first, provided you are an eligible elector. Please bring your ID.
“Also, if you have received a Voter Instructions Letter for a family member who is in the Hospital or Extended Care Unit, please bring their VIL to them so that they can vote during the remote voting timeframes.”
The Municipal Office is located at 25 Fifth Ave. The phone number for the Municipal Office is 807-737-2700.
3. Are there advance polls or proxy voting? “Because the election is being conducted via internet and telephone and voters can vote any time during the voting period (10:00 a.m. October 13th through 8:00 p.m. October 22nd), there will be no advance polls or proxy voting.”
Asked about the security and integrity of the voting system, MacKinnon responded, “Simply Voting (the telephone/internet service provider selected by the Municipality), has a strong track record of delivering these election platforms.” MacKinnon further explained, “Simply Voting has taken extraordinary measures to ensure the security and integrity of these systems, including specific safeguards against hackers and imposters, and assurances regarding the secrecy of each ballot cast. There is also an independent auditor in place to monitor the voting process and to watch for any indications of improper use of the systems.”
MacKinnon invited anyone looking for further information on the security measures being taken to ensure the integrity and secrecy of the voting platforms to contact the Municipal Office and ask to review the Voting Security Information Package.
MacKinnon additionally noted:
using someone else’s voter credentials (PIN) is illegal; and
opening someone else’s mail (e.g. Voter Instructions Letter) is illegal
Both of these offences attract significant penalties under law.
“People sometimes think that the Clerk’s role in an election is to get people out to vote or to increase voter turnout; this isn’t exactly correct. In fact, the Clerk’s role is to ensure that every elector who is eligible to vote has the opportunity to vote,” MacKinnon explained.
He went on to add, the role of the Municipal Clerk/Returning Officer in a Municipal Election includes:
Upholding the Principles of the Municipal Elections Act, namely:
the secrecy and confidentiality of the individual’s vote is paramount;
the election should be fair and non-biased;
the election should be accessible to the voters;
the integrity of the process should be maintained throughout the election;
there be certainty that the results of the election reflect the votes cast; and
Voters and Candidates should be treated fairly and consistently within a municipality
Preparing for and conducting an election, including maintaining peace and order in connection with the election (Municipal Elections Act, Sec. 11)
“The unofficial election results will be released at approximately 9:00 p.m. on October 22, 2018, following the Post-Election Audit. The results will be available on a special homepage on the Municipal website once they are released at or about 9:00 p.m., and this special results page will remain in place until 11:00 a.m. on October 23rd. Following that, the Official Results will be posted on the Municipality’s website.
“Candidates or their appointed scrutineers, will be invited to attend the Post-Election Audit on October 22nd following the close of voting, after which the results will be released. The lobby of the Municipal Office will be open after 8:00 p.m. for people who wish to hear the results first-hand, as announced by the Clerk following the Post-Election Audit,” MacKinnon concluded.