True Vote C-R: paper ballot petition launched  gŏđŏ

HAMMOND | Come next spring Clarence- Rockland council members will have some “food for thought” to ponder when they start thinking about the municipal elec- tion in the fall. The True Vote Clarence-Rockland move- ment got underway by the end of an eve- ning meeting Oct. 23 at the Alphonse-Carri- ère Community Centre in Hammond. The goal of the group is to gather enough names on a petition to convince Clarence- Rockland council to suspend electronic vot- ing in the local civic election in favour of going instead with a traditional paper bal- lot system. Jacques Taillefer launched the initiative because of concerns with the security and validity of electronic voting systems in place right now. During last Wednesday’s organi- zational meeting for the True Vote initiative, he cited an Election Ontario study, Alterna- tive Voting Technologies Report June 2003, which highlighted problems with e-voting at the municipal level. “This confirms what we lived through last election,” said Taillefer, “and also that we’re not alone.” The Election Ontario report covered the e-voting setups in Ontario and other prov- inces, in some American state elections, and also in other countries like Australia. The re- port noted that in Ontario 44 municipalities used e-voting as part of their civic election setup and 33 of those municipalities report- ed “technical difficulties” that hampered getting a final accurate count of votes.

“This is not just a Clarence-Rockland is- sue,” said Taillefer. He cited report observations that current e-vote system setups cannot guarantee a “one person one vote” result in some cases, may have trouble authenticating votes, and protecting voter confidentiality. The report also noted that there is “no conclusive evidence” that an e-voting sys- tem has a positive effect on local partici- pation in an election. There is no certain evidence that an electronic voting system results in more people taking part in the election process or that there is any cost- savings for the municipalities. The goal of the True Vote Clarence-Rock- land initiative is a moratorium on use of e-voting for Clarence-Rockland’s civic elec- tion and a return to an all-paper ballot sys- tem. Volunteers will canvass door-to-door for signatures on a petition to present to Clarence-Rockland council next spring. There is also an electronic version of the petition at and the non- partisan group has a Facebook page set up with a link to the e-petition. Éric Paquette, the I.T. expert for True Vote Clarence-Rockland, noted that young peo- ple are more inclined to get involved with petitions and causes through their social media networks. The group will use Face- book, Twitter and other social media to tar- get this demographic. “We will get their support by using the technology,” Paquette said. Coun. René Campeau, Ward 7 representa-

tive, attended the True Vote meeting as an observer. He is also reviewing a copy of the Election Ontario report. “I’m really on the balance on this,” Campeau said during a later phone inter- view. The Ward 7 councillor agrees that the e- voting system has its flaws. But he noted that every voting system has its own poten- tial for fraud or error.

“That’s why I’m on the fence right now,”he said. “My (final) decision is still open at this time.” Campeau noted that the municipal clerk’s office is preparing a report for council to re- view concerning e-voting systems and pos- sible safeguards to prevent or reduce the chance of fraud or errors. Council has also asked for a financial assessment as part of the report.

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