On Oct. 27 I was in Sudbury Ontario to help re elect my son to his fourth term as public school trustee.
While there I was able to observe the strong growth in voter turnout. While there was a dynamic race for mayor and council, we found that the main reason was the ability for voters to vote online for the first time.
In 2010 voter turnout was just under 30 per cent overall. In my son’s electoral district in 2010 there were three days of advance voting in four different locations. The advance vote total for his area was sixty-two voters.
In 2014 online voting occurred for ten days from the 14th to the 24th of October. A voter could access on line 24/7 without leaving their residence. There was only one advance poll day where one could vote at any polling station set up in every shopping mall in the city, much the same as we are doing here. The City of Sudbury was able to end the seldom used practice of a mail-in ballot and cut the cumbersome proxy vote procedure. Instead of the proxy or mail procedure we were able to get one of our supporters on temporary duty in Thailand and a student in Florida to vote online. Our campaign was given the numbers of voters in both the advance polls and online voting on Saturday, Oct. 25. While the advance voters casting a ballot in person remained the same(61) the online results were astounding. Some 4,000 voters took advantage of online voting in his area alone. City wide there were some 20,000 online votes cast.
The result was an increase of some 20 per cent to 51 per cent or 58,000 votes cast out of 114,000 eligible voters.
I submit that if online voting was adopted here that would go a long way to increase voter turnout. Certainly Mr. Wipper in his comments regarding voters being “too busy” would be largely resolved.
I think as well, the comment “unfamiliar with the candidates” is well founded. It is extremely difficult to question 17 or so candidates in 2 hours. After hearing 2 minutes from each candidate, 25 per cent of the time is gone. Perhaps the all candidate meetings should allow questions from the audience to specific candidates instead of all candidates answering each question. As Mr. Wipper points out the basic platforms of each candidate have been widely circulated in the papers.
I trust that I have presented a possible solution to the chronic low voter turnout in Campbell River.