Saturday, April 6, 2019

My Letter to Greater Sudbury Council Regarding Request for Decision on Ranked Ballots for 2022 Municipal Election

It was with significant concern that I read in the media this week that Council is going to be asked to decide next week on what form of ballot voters should be using in the 2022 municipal election (see: "Report: Combined paper, online ballot in 2022 will cost $600K more," Sudbury dot com, April 3, 2019).  I understand that there were issues with voting in the last municipal election that saw an extra day being added on to the voting period.  And I understand that Council had earlier asked Staff for a report on ballots - a report that has now been posted to the City's website.

Making any sort of decision at this time on ballots for the 2022 election is entirely premature.  At this point, the public has not been asked to share its opinion on the matter.  While I acknowledge that the public is expecting Council to ultimately take action to ensure a better voting outcome for citizens in the next election as compared to the last, Council has not been under any specific pressure to take action on this issue right now.  There is no rush to move forward with a decision on this matter right now - especially since the public has not been consulted.
Ranked Ballots are as easy as 1-2-3

I'm also very disturbed by the notion that Staff is recommending that the City not move to a Ranked ballot - a recommendation that appears to arise out of zero direction from this Council (the Report indicates that direction on this was given by previous Council in 2016 - something which Staff previously provided, and on which Council made an earlier decision not to used ranked ballots in the 2018 municipal election - a decision that was not informed by any public consultation or engagement).  

The issue with the last election appears to have had to do with the service provider selected by Council.  I understand too that some were upset about the lack of paper ballots.  But at no time has the question arisen regarding whether it would be appropriate to maintain a winner-take-all ballot vs. a ranked ballot.  That's a question that Council ought to decide on - but it should do so only after extensive public consultation with the public.  This matter does not need to be decided on until May 1, 2021, as per the legislation (and as referenced in the Report).

I urge all on municipal Council to defer these matters until after the City has reached out to the public to ascertain our feelings about the matter.  After all, municipal elections belong to all of us - we ought to be included in the decision-making process about how our votes are ultimately cast and counted.

Thank you for your time.

(opinions expressed in this blogpost are my own, and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the Green Parties of Ontario and/or Canada)

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