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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Four new rules adopted into the Municipal Election Proxy Procedures Policy

by Sylene Argent

Essex Council received the report, “Municipal Election Proxy Procedures Policy,” and adopted the four recommended Proxy Procedures Policies for municipal elections or by-elections.

  In the Report to Council, it notes that at its September 3, 2019 meeting, Council directed Administration to review and report back on election policies, procedures, and by-laws.

  Proxy voting is the procedure by which a qualified elector may appoint another person who is a qualified elector in the same municipality to vote on their behalf in a Municipal election, Clerk, Robert Auger explained, adding rules and qualifications surrounding proxy voting are set out in the Municipal Election Act, as well is the prescribed form to legally appoint someone to be a proxy.

  Any proposed changes to the Provincial requirements must be made at the Provincial-level, however, the Town Clerk does have the authority to implement additional procedures for Town of Essex elections surrounding the proxy vote process, he explained.

  The four recommendations included:

• To issue the required Form 3 (Proxy Vote sheet) directly to qualified electors, who make a request directly to the Clerk’s Office that they wish to appoint another person to vote on their behalf;

• Only Proxy Application Forms that have been issued directly with serial number stamp by the Clerk’s Office will be accepted for certification;

• The person appointed as a Proxy will additionally be required to bring with them, when they apply for certification, proof of identification of the elector who appointed them;

• Proxy Form applications will no longer be received, processed, and certified at the voting location itself. Certification will take place directly at the Clerk‘s office.

  Auger explained the Harrow advance voting poll was well used during the last municipal election, and those seeking certification of proxy forms at this event added to the congestion. Business hours or other methods of collecting the proxies are being considered.

  “The overall result of the new proposed policy and its implementation should be better controls in place with respect to the Proxy Vote process, a process which remains vitally important for in person voting and ensuring access to the democratic process,” the Report to Council notes.

  Auger said public education on the changes will be necessary for the next election. He said the desire of the changes was not to make the process overly restrictive.

Councillor Chris Vander Doelen said there is a reason why there is a Proxy Vote process in place, to get as many people the chance to vote as possible. He was not sure many would be able to put in the energy necessary to complete the process with the additions.

  Councillor Morley Bowman said the recommendations tighten up the issue, but he believes this will affect the most vulnerable the most.

  Councillor Bondy said in the last election, Essex had 18 times the number of proxies submitted as other municipalities. In addition to providing safeguards, the recommendations prevent putting Town staff into uncomfortable situations, she said.

  She added that, in her opinion, more advanced polls will be needed in future elections.

  In a recorded vote, the motion passed unanimously. The information will also be passed on to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario for other communities to view.

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