City’s voters’ is not up-to-date
If you are on it, less hassle on election day
(Opinion written for Town Crier Dec. 13)
Municipal voter turnout was a dismal 39.3 percent in the last election but it may not just be apathy that’s to blame.
It may a flawed voters’ list contributing to people not showing up to cast ballots.
Canadian citizens 18 and older can vote in the city election if you live here or own property in Toronto, but the voters’ list is actually compiled
by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation. But the provincial agency’s list is flawed so many tenants, owners and entire buildings are
left off the voters’ list.
Eligible voters can still vote if they aren’t on the list, but it’s harder.And let’s face it many of us don’t go out of our way to vote because we live in a pretty stable city and we take elections for granted.
The accuracy of the voters’ list was part of a hot debate on the city council floor Dec. 2.
Mayor David Miller said that 260,000 people were deleted from the list last year. He added that the city is trying to ensure if you are eligible to vote
then you are on the list and not wrongly deleted or omitted. However, the city doesn’t administer the list.
Councillor Adam Vaughan decried that some voters not on the list had to come back three or four times before they could meet the stricter criteria
applied when your name isn’t there.
Beaches-East York Councillor Sandra Bussin has noticed problems with the lists and has been pushing for changes for a decade.
“The onus is on landlords to provide an updated (tenant) list,” she says. “I’m of the opinion that tenants are being disenfranchised of their vote.”
She has campaigned when an entire seniors building on Coatsworth Crescent has been left off.
“So that entire building didn’t get any election voters registration cards and it took four years (to fix it),” Bussin mentions. “The city went to the
building to enumerate (tenants) and sent the list to (the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation).”
“It’s messed up badly. A lot of people are not getting voters cards and don’t know where to vote. People are not getting a chance to vote,” Bussin
“On election day, most of us wake up in a sweat wondering if people even know there’s a municipal election,” she says.
Councillor Michael Walker has been pushing for election reforms since 2001 and said that part of the solution is to let voters know the role the list
plays and what to do if your name isn’t there.
“We need a public education campaign. Here’s how you get on the voters’ list. Or if you don’t want to be on the voters’ list, here’s what ID you
need to bring (to vote),” Walker tells me.
There’s no time like the present to get educated.
So my suggestion, plea really, is to get on the voters list by calling the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation at 1-866-296-6722. Tenants and
owners can provide updated info over the phone or may be required to fill out a form to ensure they are correctly on the voters’ list.
Closer to election day Oct. 25, 2010 you can also call Elections Toronto at 416-338-1111 to find out what ID to bring and what polling station is
closest to you.
Being on the list makes it easier to vote and there hundreds of reasons to do so in the city election.
How many times have you or your neighbour complained about crime, a tall development on your block, TTC fare hikes, potholes, snow clearing, garbage
collection, homelessness, lack of parks and too few recreation programs in your neighbourhood? These are all services paid for by your city tax dollars
and decided on by the municipal government that you elect.
And that’s worth tuning up for.
I have to say that I doubt it is the flawed voters’ list. I have worked in many elections as a Deputy Returning Officer (all governmental levels inclusing the city) and it has been an across the board practice to let everyone vote that you possibly can. There are always many ways to permit it – legally.
Sadly, city votes are seen as least important in the political realm when the truth is that’s the level of government that has the most impact on our daily lives.
Ken, I couldn’t agree more. City council is not only closest to the people but the services from housing, daycare, parks, libraries, roads, TTC, garbage, snow removal, police, EMS, parks, community centres, etc directly impact people’s lives as you say. I know a lot of people who grumble about these services not being good enough and yet I don’t understand why more people don’t vote then?