A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elections Ontario Responds

Having written to Elections Ontario to express my concern with the voting locations which some rural residents are asked to attend, that being some distance beyond several closer polls, I was surprised to get a quick response. Here is what they had to say on this issue:-

Returning Officers must consider a number of criteria to find the most suitable voting locations including convenience for electors; the location’s capacity; the extent to which electors are likely to be familiar with the location; any significant barriers that electors will encounter in reaching the location; and any other factor that may be relevant to the proper conduct of the election.
Additionally, recent amendments to the Election Act require that all voting locations are fully accessible. To meet these new requirements, Elections Ontario has developed comprehensive Site Accessibility Standards to help Returning Officers find the most accessible voting locations in their electoral district.

The changes we have made to selecting voting locations mean that some buildings which have held polls in the past are no longer used. In some instances, electors may therefore have to travel further to a voting location than in the past.

In the examples you have cited, it is true that in some instances there may be other voting locations that are closer geographically, however these locations are already at capacity. The electors would then be assigned to the next closest accessible location”.

I have a couple of comments regarding this, firstly how is that Elections Canada managed to find locations with sufficient capacity and access to have us vote locally, secondly I view the distance we have to travel to vote a significant barrier to many voters, and the fact that we drive past an open poll to get there a significant disincentive to vote.

A poll clerk at one of the advanced polls told me that there is already considerable discontent with the voting locations (this not from the area mentioned in the original post), as another who worked in previous polls said “It’s broken on all levels and no amount of tweaking is going to fix it – it needs a major overhaul.”, Whist talking about the federal election it is clear that the same hold true at the provincial level.

Its long past time for 'electronic voting' be it by phone, on the internet or by machine at a poll location – preferably all three! Elections Canada is working on such an initiative I believe. Let us hope that any system devised is shared across the country with both the provinces and municipalities- or will everybody devise their own system each different from the next? I think we all know which way that will go!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ontario Election Cluster F**k!

Having just received our “Notice of Registration” card in the mail we were surprised and dismayed to learn that we did not vote in one of our local communities of Chatsworh or Desboro or Wiliamsford but were expected to drive some distance to Holland center. Upon checking where others around our area were required to vote it became even more bizarre in that some folks would be driving practically past our door to vote at a CLOSER poll whilst other (including ourselves) would be driving PAST an OPEN poll in order to get to the one specified by Elections Ontario.

Is this a concerted effort to discommode rural voters or are the folks who set this up totaly unaware that maps exist that would tell them where these locations are?

Just for you interest here are a few of the WEIRD decisions in this regard:-

Let us take those at the North end of Concession 4 near County road 40 just a mile out of Chatsworth they are asked to vote miles away at
Address: R.R. # 3,  777346 HWY 10,  HOLLAND CENTRE,  ON  N0H 1R0.

...... as are many others just to the west of Chatsworth, However those a little further to the west on the North end of Concession 8 for instance get to vote at
Location: LOUNGE
Address: 112 SALTER ST,  WILLIAMSFORD,  ON  N0H 2V0.

....they like ourselves must ignore the closest poll at
Address: 76 MCNAB ST,  CHATSWORTH,  ON  N0H 1G0.

.......... and drive way down the road to Williamsford. We on the other hand must ignore the nearby Chatsworth poll, drive practically PAST the Williamsford poll and travel all the way to Holland Center.

If this is typical of how the polling locations are figured out then I predict two thing, 1) Many folks will ignore their cards and go to the nearest poll (if they are aware of it through others) and get turned away. 2) Many will look at the distances involved in getting to their poll and simply not bother.

Whilst I really do encourage folks to vote option '2' is looking increasingly attractive particularly in that the advanced polls, whilst open anywhere from 5 to 10 days depending upon where you go, are even further away.

You can check thing out for yourselves at this search form provided by Elections Ontario
but don't even bother to try it unless you have a great deal of patience as it is hardy 'user friendly' , is slow to respond, and there is no fuzzy search here, one minor thing wrong and it goes tilt! Additionally it seems that many of the lots and concessions do not exist according to the search engine.
Have fun checking out your voting location, you may have to book some extra time off to get there.........

UPDATE - I now learn that there is also a polling station in nearby Desboro (where we voted for the federal election), the excuses that Elections Ontario has given for the unavailability of local polling locations is thus total nonsense!