Discrimination in municipal voting.

You know you are a second-class citizen in Ontario if you are a tenant and have moved since last time you voted in a municipal election. The municipal people across Ontario explain it simply: if you are a tenant, you are responsible to register to vote. If you are a real property owner, you are on the tax rolls and you are automatically on the voters’ list.

This situation is hardly an improvement over the time when the federal and provincial electoral officers hired enumerators before each election to create the voters’ lists. Even the city was enumerated by the commercial collection for the city directory. These are long gone but they never were as discriminatory.

But since tenants do not turn out to vote in huge numbers, the politicians say that tenants do not care. They do not worry very much about tenant issues in their municipalities. And since the politicians do not care, why should the city staff? And the problems for tenants continue to snowball.

The politicians get their comeuppance when they think condominiums are full of tenants. Many are not and these people are often home owners and voters. And that is why smart politicians give condos high priority for rainy campaigning days.

Mind you, here in Babel, we are all second class citizens when it came to voting this year. The city still uses an antiquated voting system that actually creates a paper trail. This is a system that figuratively includes both belts and suspenders. Four years ago, the system came unglued when the voting unit counts where tallied (supposedly automatically) by the city computers. Between the delay at the polling booths to ensure everybody in line got to vote and the cumbersome system, we were about an hour and a half late finding out the final results.

When it was suggested that the city should make the move this year to start using Internet voting, the civil servants seemed horrified at the suggestion. As silly as it is, they seem to like their strangely mixed system. All the voter sees is that this very helpful person goes into the voting booth area with them and one-at-a-time tells the voters how to cast their ballot. This takes more time with some than others but each voter is given access to the correct school trustee vote and the correct list of ward councillor aspirants.

They are then left alone to make their choices. What we found was that the explanation took at least a minute (with no questions or concerns) and then about 15 seconds to vote and to end up with a screen ready for the next voter. All in all, it is not very efficient or fast and those machines look very expensive. And we bet the new software every election costs more than a few dollars.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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