Elections Ontario is proposing that the 2018 provincial election employ a technology-enabled staffing model similar to the one that it successfully piloted in the recent Whitby-Oshawa By-election. According to Elections Ontario, the pilot model, which includes e-poll books and vote tabulators with assistive technology, makes voting easier, produces results faster and reduces the number of staff required on polling day.
To enable these changes, the Chief Electoral Officer, Greg Essensa, recommends that the Election Act and other provincial election legislation be amended to:
- Permit the expanded use of vote tabulators by removing the provisions that limit the use of vote tabulators to advanced polls in returning offices.
- Clearly provide the Chief Electoral Officer discretion to introduce technology solutions into the electoral process when it can provide efficiencies, improve accessibility and elector experiences, and protect the integrity of the process.
- Formalize the provision of strike-off data to parties and candidates, by which they can be informed of when an elector has been issued a ballot.
- Permit the Chief Electoral Officer to provide technology and assistance to other electoral management bodies in Canada, including municipalities.
Implementing the new technology in all voting locations would take about 2 years with initial capital investment costing $36 million. The proposal suggests allowing municipalities to source tabulators from Elections Ontario, carrying a number of potential implications for municipalities.
Elections Ontario tabled the report in the legislature on May 4th, 2016, and is seeking direction from the government by the end of June 2016.