Internet voting due for AP Township


The next municipal election in Alfred-Plan- tagenet Township may see voters casting their ballots from home, by phone or through their computers. Township council has agreed to go ahead and join other Pres- cott-Russell communities in trying out an electronic voting system. The question remaining is what company will provide the system? During its Dec. 5 regular session, council listened to presen- tations from representatives for two compa- nies that provide e-voting systems, though the presentations were just for information purposes for both council and township administration. “They each showed their products,” said Marc Daigneault, township chief adminis- trator. “Council has agreed to proceed with an e-voting method.” The next step now is for administrators and their staff, fromeach of the eight muni- cipalities in Prescott-Russell, to schedule meetings to discuss what type of e-voting system is needed for the entire Prescott-Rus- sell region, and then prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) to issue in the new year for tech companies that specialize in electronic voting service. The next municipal election in Ontario is not until 2018. Alfred-Plantagenet Township council heard a presentation from Scytl, the com- pany responsible for the last e-voting setup for several communities in the region du- ring the 2014 civic election. The company spokesperson answered questions about the technical glitches which occurred then, and delayed the receipt and tally for final results for some participating municipalities. The company does not anticipate a repeat of that, should it succeed in getting the e-voting contract for Prescott-Russell. A representative for Dominion Voting also outlined the company’s product for electro- nic voting and also providing a ranked ballot system if required for an election. Daigneault noted that there still exist “some reservations” about e-voting and its reliability and efficiency as opposed to the traditional paper ballot system.There is also some concern about the cost for an e-vote setup compared to the paper ballot method and also how secure the e-vote system is against tampering by hackers or someone trying to “stuff the e-ballot file”. Those are concerns that Daigneault and other muni- cipal administrators will address when they begin discussions next year to prepare the RFP. One advantage of an e-voting setup, Dai- gneault noted, is that the electronic poll period would be at least one week’s duration, rather than a single designatedmain voting, plus at least one advance poll day. Alfred- Plantagenet Township council indicated it wants designated alternate voting sites for the region, to accommodate residents who do not have home access to the Internet or may not be able to cast a ballot by phone during the week that the electronic poll is open. One suggestion is for the public library branches in each municipality to serve as alternative voting sites, so that residents could use the public computers at the libra- ries to cast their ballots.

Alfred-Plantagenet Township will be ready to try electronic voting in the next civic election, once it and the other municipalities in Prescott-Russell agree on a company to set up the system. —photo archive

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