Mississaugans Will Be Using Electronic Voting Machines For The First Time In This Coming Election

When you turn up on June 7 to cast your vote for the candidate you want to represent your Mississauga riding in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, you may notice a change in the processing of your ballot.

The June 7 provincial election will be the first time in a provincial election in Ontario when voters will be using electronic voting machines.

While not every riding will have this new technology in place, don’t be surprised that when you arrive at your polling station, your vote will be processed by an electronic version of the voter paper list we are all used to, called the e-Poll Book.

So, what to expect when it’s your turn to cast your ballot?  A machine will scan your notice of registration card.  You will then receive your ballot from an official, fill it out and hand it back to the official who will put it through the tabulating machine.

According to Elections Ontario, this new technology was tested at two byelections in 2016 and was also used in a few municipal elections.  The Feb 11, 2016 byelection in the Whitby-Oshawa riding used e-Poll Book, and ballot counting time was reduced by 1/3 —from 90 minutes of manual counting to 30 minutes of electronic counting.

“We’re hoping this will be much more efficient for the voter,” said Cara Des Granges, spokesperson for Elections Ontario.  “Getting results should be faster and the technology is proven to be more reliable than tabulating votes by hand.”

Speed of counting is one benefit of this new technology; another is responding to the Elections Ontario staffing challenge.

Finding the required number of polling officials has been getting increasingly difficult —working hours are very long and 17 new riding have been added to the Ontario’s electoral map.  Elections Ontario estimates it would have needed 100,000 polling officials for the June 7 elections, but with the new technology, only 55,000 polling officials will be working on Election Day.

With Mississauga growing and the real possibility of new electoral districts added in the future, this new voting system will not only expedite ballot-counting and ease the task of recruiting polling officials,  the new technological efficiency just might encourage more Mississaugans to come out and vote.

Casting a ballot will be less time consuming for voters with the traditional manual search through paper lists to verify their registration replaced by scanned verification.  “The public has an expectation as a modern society to expect modern services and this is what we’re trying to do,” Des Granges said.