Early voting numbers down from last election

Some speculate the lack of in-person voting options could be related to dip in voting numbers

By Kirk Winter

There won't be any opportunity to vote like this in the 2022 municipal election.

Despite contested races in every ward, and a mayoral race that is still wide-open, numbers provided on the early vote so far in the Kawartha Lakes municipal election show 5.5 per cent fewer votes cast in 2022 than 2018.

City clerk Cathie Ritchie provided The Advocate with numbers for the first five days of early voting in 2018 and the first five days of early voting in 2022. After five days of the early vote in 2018, 8,840 individuals had cast their ballots. In 2022 that number is 8,379. The 461-vote difference between the two election cycles is not insignificant and may be an early indicator that the turnout in the 2022 election could be even lower than the 38 per cent who voted in 2018, or the 42 per cent who turned out in 2014.

In a recent mailing from mayoral hopeful Pat Dunn, the advertisement focuses in large part on encouraging people to vote and showing them how they can vote under the new online/telephone structure.

Dunn also encourages voters “to vote early to avoid glitches” that plagued the rollout of the online system in 2018, and caused that election to be extended so all could cast a ballot.

Virtually every candidate interviewed by The Advocate during this election cycle has heard concern, anger and frustration shared at the front door about the move to online voting. The older demographic, who still tend to exercise their democratic right and participate in municipal elections at a much higher rate than any other age group, seem particularly upset.

In Ward Five candidate Janet Di Bello said that she has “absolutely” received complaints about the online voting system and said “many are not even aware of the new voting process.”

Wesley Letsholo, another Ward Five candidate, said that “online voting is generating substantial trepidation especially among tactile voters. There is still a strong attachment to paper ballots.”

Eric Smeaton, another Ward Five candidate said, “I find seniors, for example, really nervous (about online voting). Most people I speak to wish there was a third option of polls (for in person voting) – at least as an option for certain reasons.”

In Ward Four the message is similar.

“We seem to have forgotten about the less technical community which includes some seniors,” said candidate Ian Nicolson who also ran in 2018.

Angel Godsoe, another Ward Four candidate, said, “Everyone I have spoken with is disappointed with it. People want in-person voting and accountability with scrutineers present.”

Tyler Richards, also running in Ward Four, concurred saying, “People are not happy at all that they really don’t have and option to vote in person.”

While five days still remain for individuals to cast their early vote, it remains to be seen if the number of ballots increases significantly, or whether the 2022 municipal election in Kawartha Lakes could potentially feature one of the lowest turnouts in post-amalgamation city history.

In a 2018 look at online voting, the Advocate reached out to Policy & Internet by (lead researcher) University of Brock professor Nicole Goodman. She examined Canadian Internet elections in 2014. The paper concluded that there is some evidence that Internet voting can cause “digital disenfranchisement” noting “when paper ballots are unavailable…the voting population is made up of more technologically savvy electors…We interpret this finding to indicate that the elimination of paper ballots can disenfranchise those on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

–with files from Trevor Hutchinson.


  1. Diane Webster says:

    I am 69 yrs old. I found the telephone voting system easy to understand. I would rather vote this way & not be exposed to other people’s germs at a voting location.

  2. Dolores Rodnick says:

    While I voted online, I should not be considered as having accepted these new procedures. Perhaps the low voter turnout is a “protest” of those who want to use the paper system that has been utilized in our country for years.
    It appears to me that a lot of voters feel disenfranchised and that alone should worry the candidates and propel them to return to a system that wasn’t broke and thereby restoring the “secret” ballot. 😇😇😇

  3. D'Arcy McGee says:

    As a senior,I had no difficulty with the online voting. However, I share the concerns outlined by others. I’ve always believed we should be grateful to have the opportunity to vote,& as such, we should make the effort to go to a poll & cast a ballot. We should be grateful to be able to do this, in our democracy.What’s the next step, text your vote ,or ask google or siri to vote for you?

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