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Cobourg Held Up as Pioneer in Accessible Voting

April 29, 2010

CCOBOURG– Willowdale MPP David Zimmer is holding up the Town of Cobourg as an example to emulate, as debate goes on at Queen’s Park over updates to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

Zimmer was concerned specifically with voting technology.

“As far back as 2006, the Town of Cobourg, Ontario let its residents vote by telephone or over the Internet, as an alternative to the traditional paper
ballot, if they wished,” he pointed out.
Zimmer went on to share the experiences municipal clerk Lorraine Brace had related.

“According to statistical data from the 2006 Municipal Election in Cobourg, there was a 45% participation rate,” Brace had said.

“Out of 15,475 eligible voters, 6,951 persons voted. Of that group, 3,075 voted on the web site, 752 used the IVR (telephone voting) and 3,124 voted manually.

“We are aiming to increase the voter turnout overall in 2010 and, through an effective education campaign, increase the awareness of the benefits of telephone and Internet voting for the electors.”

The success that resulted from offering telephone and Internet options has inspired the town to do the same in the 2010 election, and perhaps dispense with the paper ballot altogether, Zimmer p>This information has been disseminated by David Lepofsky is chair of the AODA Alliance, successor to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee, who is concerned with what he sees as major obstacles in Bill 231 that would impede the use of accessible telephone and Internet voting in municipal elections.

Zimmer went on to state that those municipalities still offering traditional voting methods must keep accessibility in mind.

“The Chief Electoral Officer would be required to publish proposed voting locations six months in advance of a scheduled general election and invite public comment on those locations. This would allow members of the public, particularly electors with disabilities, to provide input before any final decisions are made,” he proposed.

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