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Council chooses touch screen voting

In Wasaga Beach
Jun 13th, 2010

By Trina Berlo Simcoe.com February 2 2010
Wasaga Beach residents will be using touch-screen voting machines again when they go to the polls Oct. 25. 
Council approved the use of the machines for the upcoming municipal election at its Jan. 26 meeting.
Similar machines were first used in Wasaga Beach in 2006, taking the place of paper ballots.
“It went very smooth. It’s a very efficient way to run an election. It’s 100 per cent accurate,” said Wasaga Beach clerk Twyla Nicholson. “Because it is so accurate and so efficient it maintains the integrity of the municipal election and I think that’s really important.”
She said it is also very cost effective. The municipality will lease the machines, although the exact cost will not be known until it is determined how many machines are needed.
The money will come out of the town’s election reserve fund, which is built up in the years leading up to each election. 
Nicholson said the touch screen voting system is easy to manage and provides instant results.
A bylaw relating to the alternate voting method was one of three bylaws that were passed last week.
“There are certain things that are mandated by the province of Ontario under the Elections Act that council has to deal with and make decisions on,” said Nicholson.
A second bylaw addressed council’s so-called lame duck period.
Beginning Sept. 10 council will not have the authority to hire or fire municipal staff, make any purchases over $50,000 or sell any municipal property valued higher than $50,000.
Council delegated authority to the CAO to deal with any necessary issues during the lame duck period.
A third bylaw laid out a policy on the use of corporate resources for election purposes.
The policy is applicable to all candidates including members of council and states candidates are not allowed to use municipal facilities, equipment, supplies, services, staff and other resources to campaign, as laid out in the Municipal Elections Act. The policy also limits councillors’ spending and prohibits the distribution of campaign material produced using municipal funds. Incumbent council members are not allowed to use their municipal e-mail to distribute campaign material and are not allowed to record any election related information on their voice mail greeting. 
The policy also states, “Nothing in this policy shall preclude a member of council from performing their job as mayor, deputy mayor or councillor, nor inhibit them from representing the interests of the constituents who elected them.”
Council also approved the purchase of software to automate the process of preparing the voters list for distribution at a cost of $5,900, amortized over four years.
The program can eliminate duplication, something Nicholson said was virtually impossible to do manually.
“It makes it very efficient,” she said. “And it gives us an election-ready, locally updated voters list so that at any time there is an election called we have a list ready.”
New election rules allow the municipality to use its own data to update the voter’s list. For example, the municipality can use known address changes to update the list and is able to remove people whose deaths have been registered with the town.
Nicholson asks that people check the voters’ list between Sept. 7 and Oct. 25 to make sure they are registered to vote.
“That is the biggest single thing that makes the election efficient… We process people faster on election day that way. The more correct we can make the voters list the faster that line-up on voting day goes.”
Visit www.wasagabeach.com for more information about the 2010 election.

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