'Streamlined' voting system backfires in some areas
CTV Southwestern Ontario
Published Wednesday, October 27, 2010 5:46PM EDT
During Monday's municipal election, systems that were supposed to make it easier to vote, didn't live up to the hype.
In Stratford, where residents could vote online or by phone over the course of the week leading up to election day, there were mixed results.
Some voters say the experience of voting from home was great, but for those who left it to the last minute, it was a tedious process.
One voter says "I got along fine with it but I had to try my computer twice, and I have friends in my building that they couldn't get it to work at all."
Many believe in the idea that making it easier to vote will translate into more people casting their ballots.
Ron Shaw, Stratford's CAO, says "We've always been above average with regard to voter turnout. We had 46 per cent turnout in the last election, this time around we had 48 per cent, so it's a small increase. We were hoping it might be bigger."
However, the system slowed as it tried to cope with the volume of voting Monday night, and not everyone was able get through.
That sent many voters to a help center at the local Rotary Club of Stratford complex, forcing the clerk to keep the polls open an extra hour to allow everyone to cast their ballot.
Shaw says "We understand it was a company-wide situation and there was a number of municipalities that had to do the same thing Stratford did, and that was extend the voting."
The server glitch left some unable to vote, like one resident who says "My wife had just voted online, I went to vote, couldn't get in, so I never got to vote."
Local officials say the new system was still a success, and it certainly sped up the counting of the ballots.
In Waterloo Region, where there was also high voter turnout in areas like North Dumfries, tabulators worked until around midnight to count traditional paper ballots.
In Wilmot Township, it was after 2:00 a.m. before the outcome of the election was known.