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Online voting raises concerns at city council

Some councillors have concerns about voter cards being sent to the wrong address; 'It should be a concern of everybody because we need to make sure our voting system has integrity'
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Is the integrity of the upcoming municipal election in jeopardy due to the city's decision to offer online voting?

Councillor Anthony Longo shared his concerns at last night’s city council meeting, after receiving a voter card addressed to his daughter who hasn't lived at home since 2017.

“I received a few other calls from people who had similar experiences,” councillor Longo told fellow council members. “There’s a lot of envelopes out there giving people the ability—who many want to do something improper—to vote electronically online. It’s a concern of mine and it should be a concern of everybody because we need to make sure our voting system has integrity.”

Councillor Jim Handley agreed and brought up the example of students who have already graduated from Brock University and who might have moved out of their student residence.

“This could lead to more ballots being cast than eligible voters almost in a sense,” councillor Handley said. “The system is flawed. I believe there’s going to be mass voting done by individuals who actually don’t live in Thorold no more.”

To vote online, residents are sent voter ID and pin codes to their home addresses. That information allows them to log into the voting website and cast their vote. 

After a question from councillor Handley, Thorold City Clerk Matthew Trennum explained that there are a few safeguards in place to verify someone's identity.

“In order to vote you do have to confirm some personal information,” Trennum told city council. “One example of that is the birth date of the individual. You also have to swear an oath that you are the correct person and there are penalties of course involved. Individuals can be prosecuted for that.”

Trennum further explained that the city has been working hard to update its voter registration list and urged residents to reach out to City Hall in case their information or that of somebody else needs updating. 

Councillor Handley asked if the validity of a ballot could be verified once a vote is cast.

“Although I don’t have all the technical information behind the system I can say that every vote cast is probably logged and fully auditable so we can know when they voted, from what location they voted,” Trennum said. "A number of that information is logged and it is completely auditable through reporting in the system."

What implications this could have for the anonymity of a ballot was not discussed.

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About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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