Mayor Frank Kinsella said he was ready to endorse electronic voting for the next election in the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands until a couple of Sundays ago. That’s when the mayor tried to vote for Prescott to be named “Hockeyville” in the national competition run by Kraft. Kinsella said he went through the prompts on the telephone, but at the end, the computer cut him off without recording his vote. If a computer system run by the multinational Kraft has glitches and cannot record votes properly, then how can we trust a small company to run the municipal vote in the TLTI, Kinsella wondered at last week’s council meeting. Clerk Vanessa Latimer recommended that the township contract Intelivote at a cost of about $28,000 to run telephone and electronic voting for the next municipal election on Oct. 27. Intelivote is the company selected by a number of towns and townships in Leeds and Grenville, including Gananoque, which sent out a joint tender call. But Intelivote is also the company that ran electronic voting for the TLTI for the 2010 election, which was plagued by bugs and glitches in the system.
While other municipalities reported an increase in participation in 2010, voter participation in the TLTI actually dropped that year in a hard-fought election in which the incumbent mayor was defeated. The TLTI recorded a 40% turnout in 2010, compared with 47% in 2006. But other municipalities that used electronic voting in 2010 saw an increase in participation. Their turnout averaged 52.5%. Councillors speculated that many township residents gave up in frustration in the last election when the computers refused to record their votes.
Citing the voting horror stories, Coun. Wendy Merkley said she wouldn’t support hiring the same company without guarantees and a substantial penalty clause in the contract. When Latimer said she would have to research the penalty clause, council voted to delay the vote on the Intelivote contract until the clerk was able to do so.
Latimer said many of the problems in the last election were caused by candidates calling into the system to find out which residents had voted. The calls overloaded the computer system, leading to the delays, she said.