A few snags encountered leading up to launch of eVoting

Troy Shantz

As Sarnians begin casting ballots this week some would-be voters have run into snags.

Some registration letters containing the unique pin numbers needed for eVoting have gone to incorrect addresses, have been received from multiple jurisdictions, or not shown up at all.

Barbara Farago said she never received her letter, although her parents, with whom she lives, did. Her two brothers who also live at the same address were also dropped from the list of eligible voters.

“To me this is a big thing,” said Farago, who has resided at the same address many years and never had a problem voting before.

“If people are going to be removed from the municipal voter’s list there should be some sort of an announcement.”

Farago has been told she must go in person to City Hall to regain her eligibility. But that’s a challenge because of her work schedule, she said.

“Why do I have to go through all that when it wasn’t my fault?”

City Clerk Dianne Gould-Brown said her office has heard from a number of voters who were omitted from the list.

But the problem isn’t unique to this election, Sarnia’s first to use telephone and Internet voting. And it has nothing to do with the new process, she said.

Sarnia gets its voter list from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), a non-profit organization funded by the province’s municipalities, she said.

“MPAC is legislatively responsible for providing all the municipalities preliminary list of electors. By the time we get that into our voter database, the system does flags any anomalies we can correct,” she said.

“Other than that, we have heard a few things, but I can’t say for sure why that has happened.”

Gould-Brown urged anyone who hasn’t received a pin number to contact her office right away, at 519-332-0330.

“We’re trying to correct things as we go.”

Voting begin Thursday, Oct. 11 and will continue around the clock for 11 days, ending at 8 p.m. on Oct. 22.

Deputy clerk James Jenkins is advising everyone to vote early. Those who run into difficulties can go to one of four voter Help Centres at City Hall, Clearwater Arena, Bright’s Grove School and St. Patrick’s High School.

In Point Edward, the Help Centre is located at the municipal office.

Tablets are provided in a private setting with trained employees available to help.

Election workers are also visiting retirement homes, nursing homes and Bluewater Health to assist and offer voting tablets.

“We’re excited to get out there and help everyone,” said Gould-Brown.

eVoting is giving candidates a strategic tool as well. As ballots are cast, they can go online and see who has voted and who has not voted.

“It saves the candidate from knocking on doors and making calls,” Gould-Brown said. “It saves them some leg work.”

Candidates cannot see whom an individual has specifically voted for, only whether or not they have cast ballots.