Internet Voting and Ranked Ballots

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Municipal Office

395 Mulock Drive P.O. Box 328 Station Main, Newmarket, Ontario
L3Y 4X7
905-895-5193

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​On March 27, 2017, Newmarket Council approved the use of internet and telephone voting for the 2018 Municipal Election.  Residents will now be able to cast their vote online or by telephone from anywhere they have an internet or telephone connection.  Next year, Newmarket voters will have an opportunity to participate in a more environmentally-friendly, accessible and convenient method of voting.  

What is Intern​et Votin​g?

Internet voting provides voters with new ways to cast their ballots in municipal elections. There are many different ways that internet voting can be used - as an alternative to traditional paper ballots, in combination with traditional ballots, for advance voting only, or for both advance polls and on voting day.

Internet voting can also be used in various formats.

Remote Internet Voting​​Kiosk Internet VotingPolling Place Internet Voting​
  • Cast vote online from any device that has internet access from any location
  • Computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone
  • Voters sent a package in the mai​​l with a security PIN and login information
  • Convenient for residents who are out of town (school, vacation etc.)
  • Voters can adjust font size or language on their personal screen
  • More accessible – voters who may have needed assistance can vote independently from home
  • Kiosks at convenient locations around the town
  • Mall, supermarket or government facilities
  • Voters can vote any time at the kiosks based on their availability

 

  • Polling locations equipped with computers or tablets for voters to use to cast their vote
  • Election staff would still be present to guide voters through the process
  • Voters would still need to come to the voting location during specific hours
  • Voting locations would be similar to those previously used in municipal elections such as Town offices, community centres and public schools

 

The most popular form of internet voting is remote internet voting whereby the voter can cast a vote online through any device that has internet access, such as a laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone. With this method, a voter can cast their ballot from home, work, or in transit. Internet voting provides voters with more flexibility and convenience, reduces wait times at voting locations, delivers quick and accurate results, allows students and vacationers to vote from "anywhere," and provides voters with accessibility needs greater independence when casting their ballot. 

As with any technology, internet voting poses potential risks with respect to technological disruptions and security. However, despite these risks, internet voting has successfully been implemented in over 97 municipalities in Canada since 2003. For the 2014 Municipal Election Ajax, Markham, Guelph, Peterborough, and Cambridge (in addition internet voting was used during a recent Whitby by-election) all utilize some form of internet voting. None of the above municipalities noted major issues with the administration of the election using internet voting, and feedback from residents has been positive. Surveys conducted in Guelph after the use of internet voting found that the majority of residents were satisfied with online voting and would do it again, and 84% of respondents who voted online felt confident in the security around the voting process.

Ranked Ballots 

​Ranked ballots allow a voter to rank candidates in order of preference --first choice, second choice, third choice, etc. -- instead of just voting for one candidate. Ranked Ballots are new to Ontario and are now permitted under recent amendments to the Municpal Elections Act. 

What are ranked ballots?

To date, all Canadian governments have elected their representatives through "first past the post" elections, meaning that the candidate who receives that highest number of votes wins, regardless of the percentage of votes they receive. Although ranked ballots have not yet been implemented in Canada, new legislation now provides municipalities the option to continue with the "first past the post" municipal elections, or to switch to a ranked ballot system.

Ranked ballot elections require candidates to receive 50% of the votes to win. Voters rank candidates on their ballot in order of preference.  Initial results are tabulated based on voters' first choice.  If no candidate obtains 50% of the vote, a runoff occurs.  The candidate with the lowest number of votes is then eliminated. The first choice votes that originally went to the eliminated candidate are set aside and the second choices on those ballots are counted.  Runoffs continue until a candidate receives 50% of the vote.

There are potential benefits to adopting a ranked ballot system including a better reflection of the majority of voters' preference, mitigating negative campaigns and avoiding strategic voting (i.e., being forced to choose a candidate to avoid another).  Potential drawbacks to ranked ballots range from increase costs for public education, communications, additional staff and training, updating software and equipment, and slower results calculation, among others. In addition, a new electoral system may be confusing or complicated for voters to understand, and because ranked ballots have never been implemented at the municipal level in Canada before, the Town has limited examples to draw from when calculating costs, making administrative decisions, and developing policy and procedure for this type of election.  

For more information about ranked ballots please visit the links below. A full explanation of the process and how ranked ballots are counted is explained here​.


Helpful links for more information:       

Internet Voting           ​

​Ranked Ballots