This election will see Collingwood’s first use of internet and phone voting (the latter includes both smartphone and your bog-standard touch-tone phone). Eligible voters will be mailed a PIN early in October, and voting will be open Oct. 12, with the final tally on Oct. 22. Before you vote, however, you need to make sure you’re on the voters’ list (you can do that here). Collingwood town hall has a full page on the process here.
I’m torn about the online method. On one hand it offers opportunities to engage voters through the convenience and ease of online access, and might encourage more younger/millennial voters to participate. In theory it might mean a higher voter turnout. That is generally seen as good and desirable.
Higher voter turnouts are often used as yardsticks to measure success in an election. But it does not – nor cannot – measure whether voters are informed or engaged. Far, far too many online surveys and polls are completed simply because they are there or because they’re seen as an entertainment (it’s called game-ified). Will an election be the same?
Plus there’s the question of how people without computers or smartphones – or those with them but are not technically skilled in their use – will vote. Yes, they may have a touch-tone phone but I hearken back to numerous occasions trying to reach a corporation help line or service centre through the quagmire of button-pressing only to arrive, a dozen presses later, at a recorded message telling me how important my call is so please stay on the line. The wait time is an estimated 27 minutes… That sort of experience tends to colour my view of phone systems somewhat negatively.
Those without computers but want to vote that way will have to go elsewhere. To friends, relatives, or some public-access site like the library. That makes me wonder about security, the ubiquitous cookies (those little data tags that are stored on your computer every time you visit a site), someone overseeing your choice, privacy and the whole gamut of computer-related issues. Not to mention how some seniors or shut-ins will be able to get to those places.
Even though I’m a techie who has oodles of hardware and software at my disposal, I actually prefer the old polling booth method for several reasons, despite the ease and convenience of online methods.
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