Since 2004 municipal employees have been trying to the make municipal voters lists more representative of their communities. They knew that using property deeds as the primary source of data excluded many citizens.
In 2015 the municipal employees group said the system “threatens the legitimacy of municipal elections in Ontario.”
My recent assessment of the 2018 municipal elections suggests the voters lists were the worst yet. It seems likely the lists left out millions of tenants.
Last week Elections Ontario volunteered to take responsibility for municipal voters lists. This could be good news, but will things be changed?
The Wynne government couldn’t get a better deal for tenants and local democracy. The Ford government has to like the way the system favours its supporters. And then there are 400 municipalities to herd.
It will take more than an Elections Ontario recommendation to make things happen. It will be up to municipal leaders to raise the issue. Councillors in Windsor and Sudbury have aired concerns. Burlington is studying its 2018 election list to find who was left out and plans to encourage other municipalities to do likewise. More light must be shed on Ontario’s thirty years of suppressing the tenant vote.
For many municipal election cycles Ontario used voting lists based on names on property deeds from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.
Municipal Elections Act, 1996, S.O. 1996, c. 32, Sched.
“Since 2004, Association Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO) has been working towards transformational change on the voters’ list and the electoral process, to help Ontario’s local government professionals better manage the more than 400 local elections held every four years.
In 2015 the AMCTO said “there is also little justification for the voters’ list to be based on the property assessment roll. Aside from concerns about equity and representation, this system was designed with what data was available, rather than what information was needed. …
“However, the larger concern is that these assumptions have given rise to a method for creating the voters’ list that simply does not work. Instead the voters’ list is plagued by a host of problems that not only create an administrative nightmare every four years, but also threatens the legitimacy of municipal elections in Ontario.”
October 25, 2017, Representation Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017
Section 17.2 of the Election Act is re-enacted to permit the Chief Electoral Officer to provide information from the permanent register of electors to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation for electoral purposes.
April 18, 2019, Elections Ontario reports on transformative election,
Make Elections Ontario responsible for municipal voters lists to increase consistency and accuracy between voters lists.
April 19, 2019, Did 2018 Ontario municipal voters lists miss millions of tenants?https://jgoss.com/site/2019/04/23/2018-municipal-voters-list-system-disadvantaged-tenants/
By Jim Goss, April 26, 2019