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Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa is a Barrier to Voters With Disabilities!

By Geof Collis
June 3, 2014

How is it that an Unelected Official can discriminate against the Disability Community by denying us Telephone and Internet Voting and still keep his job?

For too long now he has thrown up barriers to our being able to Vote in this manner with excuses such as security yet there is no evidence of this, as his Employer we should demand he resign or be fired.

In a recent article the Deputy Clerk for the Town of Ajax states:

Security is an issue, but she said in the last municipal election, 40 Ontario communities used Internet voting and “none had any voter fraud issues.”

The security risks are “unfounded today at the municipal level,” she said, adding voting on the Internet would have more security than Internet banking.

Town officials aren’t dismissing the concern, “but we think it’s been a little bit overblown,” she added.

bit.ly/1wV66SK

Over the last number of years the AODA Alliance has requested from Chief Electoral Officer, Greg Essensa to implement telephone and Internet voting options, below I set out but a few of the AODA correspondence.

Mr Essensa’s Record

May 22, 2014

Most telling, Elections Ontario has not said what new accessible voting options, if any, it has investigated since June 2013. In June 2013, Elections Ontario regrettably and unjustifiably ruled out for the immediate future, telephone and internet voting, as a way to help voters with disabilities overcome recurring voting barriers. It is thus incumbent on Elections Ontario to either withdraw its unwarranted opposition to telephone and internet voting, or come up with another solution. We are eager to learn what it has done about this, knowing an election could have been called at any time.

bit.ly/1gZJ9sS

May 8, 2014

At the end of June 2013, after three years of study, you rendered your report to the Legislature on the options of telephone and internet voting. We profoundly disagree with your unwillingness, expressed in that report, to deploy telephone and internet voting, an accessible voting technology. Telephone and internet voting could make a great difference, especially for voters with disabilities.

We also have disagreed with your refusal to even test it in any Ontario by-election up until now. The Legislature gave Elections Ontario the mandate and power to test telephone and internet voting in any by-election, starting in January 2012. You refused to try it in any of the nine by-elections that have been held over that period, despite having committed to us to be ready to do so. Had you tried telephone and internet voting in one or more of those by-elections, Ontarians with disabilities, and other voters, could well have had the chance to use telephone and internet voting in the upcoming June 12 Ontario general election.

In your June 2013 report to the Legislature, you recommended that telephone and internet voting be studied further, in addition to the three years of study that you had just completed. We would like to know what further specific study you have conducted of these voting options over the year since you rendered that report. What results have you obtained from this further study? What specific plans and timetable do you have for completing any further study on this topic?

bit.ly/1mJWDqg

July 23, 2013

Forty-four Ontario municipalities used on-line voting of some sort in the 2010 municipal elections.

Elections Ontario remains sluggishly behind the times in its foot-dragging on this way to make voting far more accessible to voters.

bit.ly/1p19I0W

June 27, 2013

Elections Ontario Refuses to Now Use Its Authority To Test Telephone and/or Internet Voting in By-Elections, Despite Their Use in 59 Municipalities in Ontario and Nova Scotia and No Findings that They Were Hacked or Unreliable.

On June 24, 2013, Elections Ontario finally tabled a long-awaited Report on telephone and internet voting, three years in the making, with the Ontario Legislature. This Report is a huge slap in the face of voters with disabilities.

bit.ly/1jMJ8mU

Sept 14, 2012

We regret that Elections Ontario did not reply to that letter until the end of the business day on Wednesday, September 5, 2012. That was the eve of the by-elections. We also regret that in this reply, Elections Ontario rejected all our proposals to help ensure that the vote was fully accessible.

bit.ly/1nZ08MC

May 24, 2012

As we detailed in our May 14, 2012 letter to you, Elections Ontario has been on notice for at least two years of the need to be ready to test telephone and internet voting in a by-election in 2012. Fully a year and a half ago, on December 3, 2010, Elections Ontario committed in writing: “We plan to be ready for this testing in by-elections held after January 1, 2012…” Elections Ontario’s refusal to do so, set out in Ms. Wells’ May 22, 2012 letter to us, is a breach of that important commitment.

You are the public official with the sole power to authorize the use of accessible telephone and internet voting in the upcoming Kitchener-Waterloo by-election. You have commendably spoken in the past about the importance of Elections Ontario being open, accountable and transparent.

bit.ly/1iM4C3w

Conclusion

This is but a small sample of the efforts the AODA Alliance has taken to have Telephone and Internet Voting and the continued barriers that Mr. Essensa has thrown at us, no one person should have the sole power to discriminate against the Disabled, especially someone who was not elected!

We need a progressive open minded Official who is committed to breaking down barriers by making Ontario Accessible for all, not someone who is continually putting them up!

As the saying goes Mr. Essensa: If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem!

Write Mr. Essensa at greg.essensa@elections.on.ca