Advocacy Update: Fixing the Voters’ List

Since the end of the 2014 election, AMCTO has been advocating for transformational changes to the way that Ontario creates and maintains the voters’ list for municipal elections. While there is no “magic bullet,” AMCTO firmly believes that there are a number of opportunities for meaningful improvements. To that end, AMCTO has been actively engaging key government ministries, agencies and their staff to raise awareness about the systemic problems with the list and to help identify solutions.

In June, AMCTO President Chris Wray met with Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) Ted McMeekin to convey our concerns. The Minister agreed that fixing the municipal voters’ list is a priority and has committed to making improvements. Since that time MMAH in partnership with the Cabinet Office, has established a multi-stakeholder working group with representatives from the Ministry of Finance, AMCTO, MPAC, and Elections Ontario, dedicated to exploring and identifying ways to fix the list. This Working Group is a formal recognition of the importance of this issue, and represents an early, but meaningful victory for AMCTO and its members.

Background

The voters’ list in Ontario is plagued by inaccuracies, and a constant source of frustration for voters and election administrators. Neither the use of new technology, nor a willingness to explore new methods of voting have altered the reality that every four years municipalities will be provided with a list of electors that is deeply flawed. While complex, the problems generally centre around data accuracy and currency.

AMCTO wants to see a reduction in errors, and a solution to the data currency problem. While incremental changes are being worked on, over the past several months AMCTO has been advocating for a transformational solution.

Key events:

  • April 2015: AMCTO releases a position paper calling for a new approach to the voters’ list
  • May 2015: AMCTO surveys its members on the voters list Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 3.06.33 PM
  • June 2015: AMCTO Board of Directors formally supports the association advocating for a shift of responsibility from MAPC to a central elections body
  • June 2015: AMCTO President Chris Wray meets with Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Ted McMeekin, who commits to making the voters’ list a priority for his ministry

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 2.58.04 PM

  • June: MPAC releases survey conducted by IPSOS that indicates only 1% of voters associate MPAC with voter eligibility
  • August 2015: Minister McMeekin publicly confirms his intent to seek a solution to the voters’ list at the AMO “Bear Pit”

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 2.55.08 PM

  • October 2015: MPAC publicly signals that they may not be able to deliver a more effective voters’ list in the future, especially given that it falls outside of their core business as an assessment corporation
  • November 2015: Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing establishes formal terms of reference for inter-ministerial, multi-stakeholder voters’ list working group.

Our Position

AMCTO wants to see an improved voters’ list, and a solution that moves beyond incremental changes, and embraces a transformational solution to the way that the voters’ list is created and managed. This is a position we share with MPAC, who has a limited ability to fix the currency and accuracy issues that damage the current process. AMCTO is happy to be working in partnership with MPAC, and pleased that they have joined us in proactively advocating for better outcomes for municipal elections in Ontario.

Next Steps

The Voters’ List Working Group will convene for the first time in December and AMCTO will use this venue to continue to push for both short- and long-term improvements. The working group discussions are confidential, but AMCTO will continue to provide updates as often as possible in the future.

For any questions or concerns, please contact Rick Johal, Director of Member & Sector Relations (rjohal@amcto.com).

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