A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Elections Ontario Struggling......

Elections Ontario is struggling to find enough staff to fill the positions required to process your vote, this is not a particular surprise to those who have worked the polls before, it always tough to find responsible folks available for a one day 12 to 14hr shift with no breaks! I am not sure how Elections Canada gets away with it but poll clerks and others who work the polls are expected to be at their station the entire time that the polls are open and then some must remain to count ballots or forfill other duties related to closing the polls and clean up. Still its a chance for retired folks, out of work youth (over 18) and others to make a little pocket money so if you are looking for a little boost to your pocket book give your local election office a call. At last check they are still looking for people for several positions at a variety of locations.

I do feel a little sorry for the head honchos at EO in that they can only do so much ahead of time to prepare for an election, particularly one that was not 'scheduled'! That said in chatting with one worker who has been involved with both EC and EO in recent years it is apparent that the top dogs have no idea of what the problems are on the front lines and it seems are not even interested in improving the system, the training, or the much vaunted 'making voting easy'. Once again (at least here in rural areas many voters must travel to locations that are considerably further than to the closest poll location to vote, last time it was put down to a lack of 'suitable' poll locations in rural communities, the greatest roadblock being that according to Ontario law all such places must be “handicap accessible”! I mean no disrespect to those with mobility problems but when the possibility of one or two such persons having difficulty accessing the poll location dis-accommodates hundreds of residents that must then drive out of their local area to vote I wonder how such 'accommodations' help with our already dismal turnout! I do note that those with or without disabilities can vote by 'special ballot' by calling EO and getting a mail in form sent to them.

The other thing that I have become aware of is the training is somewhat hit and miss, the trainers can hardy be faulted for not having a the answers as after all many of them have never been 'trainers' for EO and even those that trained them may well be temporary not previously experienced folks given that EO (and for that matter EC) do not have a vast reserve of staff just waiting for the next election to take place. The manuals that each Poll clerk, Advanced Poll clerk, poll supervisor etc get are quite extensive and specific as to how to check for identification, deal with special situations etc etc but less so on the actual minutiae of what the job entails. I many cases its learn by default and if the poll supervisor happens to be a 'newby' then it can be problematic. Bottom line remember that all these front line folks are 'temporary' employees and many of the have a couple of hours of (somewhat limited) training and are then dumped in the deep end. When things don’t go smoothy PLEASE have patience, its not their fault that you address doesn’t match or that you are not on the list and your problems will be resolved much quicker if you do not beat up on them.

As can be seen from the above the system is not perfect, nor will it ever be but much of the problems (both provincially and federally) seem to arise from determining identify and ensuring that you only vote once. Why then are we still running in the dark ages with poll clerks wading through hundreds of printed ( and out of date as soon as they are printed) pages with up to 80,000 voters names and addresses (in the case of advanced polls) to see if you are 'on the list'. Sorry we have been using computers for such things since the 70s and have had reliable internet and dedicated communication between computers for decades now, lets use it! For those who would say it can be hacked or gamed I would say that the lack of timely updating of updated vote registration leaves no less a risk of abuse and the ONLY folks who are going to do either are the rabid partisan party flacks who will always find a way to cheat, for the average voter it never enters his or her mind.
With some folks within walking distance of a poll location once again being forced to get in their car and drive some distance to another village to vote is it any wonder that voter turnout is expected to be low, its reached the point where as little as 15% of the citizens could have actually supported those who get in (40% of 40% who vote). If we can do our banking by internet, machine or phone the surely we can devise a national system to vote the same way for federal, provincial and municipal elections and even referendums on voting systems or tossing them all out!!

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Owen Gray said...

A democracy is only as good as its front line workers, Rural.

Rural said...

Unfortunately there is little feedback to the top as to the problems encountered by these (temporary)front line workers Owen. But electors can ask for, and fill out, a complaint form if upset about the poll location or other problems that make voting less than easy!