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North Perth sticks to ‘tried and true’ voting methods

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NORTH PERTH – With North Perth’s next election fast approaching, the municipality has considered changing voting methods. Although most residents say online voting is their preferred method, the municipality chooses to stick with pen, paper and vote tabulators.

In a report delivered at the March 21 council meeting, Legislative Services Supervisor Lindsay Cline recommended sticking to the methods used in the last election in 2018. The reason is simply a lack of time. A decision on which methods will be used must be made before May 1. After that, the equipment must be approved by June 1.

“We are only seven months away from the October elections,” Cline said. “And with this tight deadline, it would be quite difficult to introduce a new method of voting for the municipality in terms of finalizing the procurement process, developing new procedures and educating the public. The recommended method has proven itself.

Paper and vote tabulators have been in use since 2001, but as Councilor Lee Anne Andriessen pointed out, the last election saw only 24-31% turnout. It was in 2018 and before the pandemic.

“I’m quite disappointed that we can’t offer internet voting,” she said. “I really want to support the current use of voting metrics that we have used in person in the past. I think that’s great, and people appreciate that.

“But I also think Internet voting might help increase turnout.”

Cline shared Andriessen’s concerns but reiterated that the timing was not right.

“I don’t think there’s enough time to get a new system and do the due diligence and testing to make sure everything about internet voting, like providing security and all that. I just don’t think we have enough time to do that for this year’s election.

As part of its survey of voting practices, the municipality released an online survey to gauge the community’s preferred method of voting. Your Say North Perth found that half of participants listed ‘Internet’ as their preferred method of voting.

Some cited social distancing as the reason for the decision. Some, who did not prefer the internet, cited security as the reason they wanted to vote on paper in person.

One survey respondent concisely summarized his reasoning for Internet voting:

“Facilitate. Pressure. Schedule.”

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