Kawartha Lakes released a detailed breakdown of the 2018 municipal election as part of a proposal for changes to the 2022 municipal election tentatively approved by council on Jan. 12. The numbers make it clear that voter turnout for municipal elections needs improvement, both in Kawartha Lakes and the rest of Ontario.
Kawartha Lakes council unanimously recommended at their Jan. 12 committee of the whole meeting that the city permanently adopt the combination of internet and telephone voting for future municipal elections that was first experimented with in 2018.
City clerk Cathy Ritchie asked that the internet/telephone vote be kept for the upcoming Oct. 24, 2022 city-wide election.
Talking about the next municipal election right after the most recent one is like talking about alcohol the day after a big party: For some people, even the mere mention brings discomfort.
But I would argue now is the exact time that we as citizens — with and through our elected officials — should be talking about it. Let’s face it — the most recent election raised a couple important issues: how we vote in the first place, and how we can get consensus in our wards.
How do we want to vote?
Most citizens who bothered to vote (or perhaps tried to vote, in our case) are aware that, like 48 other municipalities, the City of Kawartha Lakes’ election had to be extended an additional 24 hours because of technical problems with the company hired to administer our online-and-phone-only election, Dominion Voting. (Dominion Voting originally reported the problem affected 51 municipalities but has since reduced that number to 49).
The City of Kawartha Lakes has provided a written response to members of the media — and at least one candidate — over what some thought were potential irregularities about the voting process on election night. But Candidate Gord James, who was present that evening, is not satisfied with the response — especially about the role played by scrutineers.
The campaign team of mayoral candidate Gord James has written a letter to the City Clerk requesting to see the original election data from Dominion Voting for the City of Kawartha Lakes municipal election results.
The team has also asked for an official response as to why the results were tabulated/received by City election staff without the candidates’ scrutineers present.
By the time you read this, our municipal election results will have finally been tallied – (No, honest! We mean it, this time! Hey, where are you going? Come back here!). A few candidates’ signs will have even been removed from intersections and road sides. Some will have been mulched by grass cutting equipment.
Many, however, will have been, um, appropriated and re-purposed by citizens — stapled to barn walls where snow used to blow in on the hen’s roosts, the kids’ bicycles and that paddle board you last used in 2004.
In the end, the City of Kawartha Lakes voted for stability, as embodied in the leader they already knew. Andy Letham pulled out a victory with 11, 435 votes. Gord James, the former councillor who was always assumed to be Letham’s greatest challenger to overcome, came in second with 9,878 votes.
Brian Junkin was a distant third with 2,724 and Peter Weygang captured 1,007 votes in unofficial results.
James ran a highly visible campaign. He clearly won the ‘sign war’ across the City, dominating early in that regard. He was visible, amiable, and congenial, always.
Last night at around 7 p.m., the City of Kawartha Lakes Clerk, Cathie Ritchie — invoking powers given to her role under the Elections Act as the clerk of this municipal election — declared an ‘emergency’ and extended the election. Voting was to have ended by Monday Oct. 22 at 8 pm. Voting has now been extended until today (Tuesday Oct. 23) at 8 pm. All methods of voting (online, telephone, online in-person at select City locations) has been extended.
In a press release released last night, the City described the reason for the extraordinary measure as follows: “Due to the volume of voters casting their electronic ballots this evening, the system continues to run slower than expected.”
Further investigation by The Lindsay Advocate has revealed that the delay had nothing really to do with the number of voters, but rather technical systems that Dominion Voting uses — the company hired to administer this election.
The Lindsay Advocate began our coverage of the election with a popular eight-page spread in our print edition, highlighting some of the positions held by the four mayoral candidates. For the record, all four candidates were very generous with their time and all of them met every deadline we asked of them. We did not endorse any candidate and we wish them all, on the eve of this election, success.
Another right-wing leaning outside group wants to be part of the City of Kawartha Lakes’ municipal election. Campaign Life Coalition, based out of Toronto, declares on its website that it is against same-sex marriage, sex education, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and the use of contraceptive methods.
“Almost daily, the culture of death spawns new threats to human life, the family and freedom,” its website reads.