Everything about the June 7 provincial election promises to be quick.
When the writ is dropped as expected on Wednesday, candidates will have just 28 days to talk about the issues and why they deserve to be supported.
That’s a quick campaign compared to 2014 when it stretched to nearly 40 days.
The actual voting process at the polls should also be quick. Elections Ontario has invested in a new electronic poll book to replace the familiar bundles of paper lists that election workers require to confirm a voter‘s identity.
This year for the first time in Ontario voters will receive in the mail a Voter Information Card (VIC) printed with a barcode.
Election personnel will scan the code as voters enter the polls, making for quick identification before ballots are handed out.
New vote tabulators are also expected to speed up the process. When voters leave the voting booth, they will be shown how to feed their ballot into a tabulator, where it will be electronically counted rather than counted by hand.
Tabulators have been used in two Ontario by-elections with faster results.
“This will be the first time the province uses them on a large scale and it should make the count very quick,” said Sarnia-Lambton returning officer Bob McKinley.
“Results will be out literally minutes after the polls close.”
Electronic poll books and the vote tabulators are expected to reduce the number of election workers required on June 7, because fewer polling stations are needed.
Most Sarnia-Lambton voters will go to the same location they have gone to vote in the past, but with fewer polling stations. The so-called super polls should simplify the process and move lineups along.
In the riding of Sarnia-Lambton, with 82,000 eligible voters, 170 polling stations have been reduced to 38 super polls.
Very little will change in terms of voting locations, McKinley stressed. But what happens inside those locations will be streamlined.
About 80% of Sarnia-Lambton voters normally turn up with the VIC cards mailed to them, he said.
To ensure your card has updated and accurate information when it arrives in your mailbox, Elections Ontario is encouraging all voters to e-register online at www.elections.on.ca/en/voting-in-ontario/voter-registration.html.
If a voter goes to the polls without a VIC card, they can still vote by showing appropriate identification, but it will be slower.
Candidates have until May 17 to register. At presstime, the Sarnia-Lambton Provincial Liberal Association had not called a nomination meeting. However, other parties have confirmed their candidates:
* Kathy Alexander (NDP) – Executive director of the Bluewater Health Foundation.
* Bob Bailey (Progressive Conservative, Incumbent) – Sarnia-Lambton MPP since 2007.
* Kevin Shaw (Green Party) – Great Lakes Secondary School math teacher.
* Andy Bruziewicz (Trillium Party) – City councillor since 1994 who ran previously as provincial independent candidate and federal NDP candidate.
* Fanina Kodre (Century Party) – Sarnia resident who is candidate and provincial leader of the new Century Party of Ontario, created by her brother-in-law in February.
Candidates will be asked to share their platforms during at least two all-candidates forums, with more expected to be announced. The following have been confirmed:
* May 16 — 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Sarnia Library Theatre, hosted by the Sarnia Lambton Health Coalition and the Sarnia Lambton RNAO.
* May 18 — 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Quality Inn, hosted by the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce. $25 members, $30 non-members.