One voters list would simplify elections process: Wallace

KENILWORTH – While most people would like to see a way for voters lists to be updated and accurate, the “road map” to get there isn’t as simple as it seems.

On June 24 Wellington North councillors briefly discussed a report by clerk Karren Wallace following the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO) issuing a position paper on modernizing the voters list.

Wallace’s report states that AMCTO members are  essential for municipal elections; however, it’s the voter’s list provided by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) that helps ensure fair and effective municipal elections.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that, without an accurate voters list, municipal elections would lay an onerous burden on the clerks’ staff as well as electors,” the report states.

“The Ontario municipal voters list is derived largely from the property tax rolls of a municipality.

“Unfortunately, it is plagued by inaccuracies which result in frustration for both individual voters and the election administrators tasked with running a fair election.

“Despite numerous attempts to improve the system by which voter information is collected and shared with municipalities, the voters list remains mired in controversy, requiring a significant number of manual changes during each election cycle.”

Municipal clerks are largely responsible for a fair and effective election, however, they have limited control  over the voters list.

“The clerks are accountable for all aspects of the election without having full control over one of the critical elements that being the voters list,” Wallace’s report says.

“With three different levels of government seeking votes from virtually the same pool of eligible electors, there is a strong argument for a single list managed by a single entity.

“The average voter may or may not be able to differentiate between the responsibilities and functions of a given level of government, but they do understand frustration when the act of voting does not occur in a seamless manner across all three orders of government.”

Wallace said issues with the voters list happen every election.

“No one seems to want to take over the list,” she said.

“It seems strange that I can drive and GoogleMaps knows where I am at any place in the world, but we can’t seem to get one list for federal, provincial and municipal elections.”

Wallace said AMCTO continues to champion the idea of a single list.

Mayor Andy Lennox said Wellington County pays the MPAC bill on the township’s behalf.

“We had a presentation at the county level and strenuously suggested improvements be made to the voters list process.”