Cambridge not spared problems with voters’ list in 2014

By  | April 9, 2015 | 3 Comments | Filed under: Cambridge Council 2014/2015

Waterloo Region Record

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CAMBRIDGE — The City of Cambridge should pay its poll workers a little better, reduce the number of polling places and find better ways to verify the accuracy of its voters’ list, says a post-election report submitted to councillors Tuesday.

The voters’ list errors that plagued the cities of Waterloo and Kitchener — properties left off the list, inaccurate names and addresses — were found in Cambridge during the fall 2014 election campaign as well, city clerk Michael Di Lullo said in an interview.

Information to formulate the voters’ list is provided to Ontario cities by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) roughly two months before voting takes place.

“As much as we as clerks want to point the finger at MPAC, they are part of the problem, but at the end of the day the onus falls on the voter,” Di Lullo said.

He said city staff spent countless hours manually updating the information provided by MPAC, which is called the preliminary list of electors, with information gleaned from public complaints and other databases.

Jennifer McConkey, account manager of municipal relations with the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, said in an interview that while her organization uses property transfer data and Elections Canada databases to complete the list of electors, it cannot access data about tenants who move, births, deaths or other life changes that aren’t tied to the purchase and sale of property.

“The unfortunate thing is, people move all of the time, and MPAC doesn’t necessarily have access to all of the information on tenant moves, for example. That’s a piece of information that’s changing daily — moving, births, deaths, people moving out of their parents’ home.”

McConkey said more voters need to look up their own names on an MPAC website, VoterLookup.ca, in the lead-up to the 2018 election, to verify their address and ensure they’re on the voters’ list.

Di Lullo also found that he had trouble recruiting for the nearly 300 temporary or one-day positions needed to run the election, and had to encourage city staff to apply to work at the polls.

Poll workers were paid between $100 and $200, depending on their responsibilities, for working on election day. The report suggests the city pay more, to attract candidates who could quickly grasp the growing complexity of an election that is now conducted online, over the phone, as well as in person.

“It’s not like before where you’re given a ruler and pencil and told, ‘Here you go,’ ” Di Lullo said. “If we want to encourage these different ways of conducting elections, you have to hire at least some sort of skill and it is hard (to hire) off the street.”

Compensation for poll workers and city staff who opted to help with the election amounted to $38,300.

For 2018, Di Lullo suggested that the city cut the number of polling places from 50 to 25, and each remaining polling place contain more workers and computers to help voters with any problems.

“My goal is not to decrease the number of people we hire, it’s to redistribute them to make it faster.”

cherhalt@therecord.com , Twitter:@HerhaltRecord

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3 Responses to Cambridge not spared problems with voters’ list in 2014

  1. cambridgeawareness14@gmail.com'
    david April 9, 2015 at 10:54 am

    City staff should not be the ones in charge of the voters list or the votes. The trust has been broken. Why isn’t Revenue Canada’s voter list being used? There is a question on everyones return if they want to be on a voters list. MPAC’s list does not list people who are not homeowners and who live with other members of the their family, which mainly effects seniors.

  2. Debbie Duff Vitez April 9, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    City Hall blamed MPAC back in 2010… they promised no mistakes 2014 and here we are, blaming MPAC again..
    David,
    They had city workers manning the polls in 2010, and refused to disclose who they were under an FOI request..
    Questionable elections.. there have been plenty as far back as 2003

  3. lvann_11@sympatico.ca'
    Fred Radky April 10, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Here we go again with the same BS as before. A new spin will happen in the next election. Fixed.

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