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Elections Ontario stepping into 'digital arena' by developing new app

'That’s really our goal, is to make that process as easy as possible,' says Ontario's chief electoral officer
Greg Essensa, Ontario's chief electoral officer, is shown in a file photo.

Voters will have 10 days to cast their ballots ahead of June's provincial election.

“We’re hoping that that will help spread the curve in voting so that more people will take advantage of that early voting option,” said Greg Essensa, Ontario’s chief electoral officer.

That’s an increase from five days in the previous election.

Part of the process will be having rotating advance polls available. That would see voting taking place at one location for three or four days and then moving to another voting location, something Essensa says is especially helpful in some of the larger ridings that include rural areas where people generally have to travel farther distances.

But the key to a smooth voting process, he emphasized, is to make sure you’re on the voting list. Voting cards will be mailed out to the 10.7 million Ontario residents on the list now. 

Those who aren’t must register and can do that on the Elections Ontario website. Once they have their voter card, all they need to do is show identification to cast their vote, Essensa said.

Speaking on the phone Monday from Blue Mountain, where he gathered with returning officers from across the province in preparation for the upcoming election, Essensa said a new app has been designed to help people through the voting process.

“It somewhat changes the paradigm on how we engage with electors,” he said. “Now electors can choose  they can choose how they want to be communicated with. It’s our first step into that digital arena.”

The Elections Ontario app, which can now be downloaded onto smart phones and accessed online, is the first of its kind, he said, and is in the pilot stage.

Voters can find out where the voting stations are in their riding and when with help from a map; see the list of candidates as they register; they can access electronic voter information cards; and they can choose to have notifications via SMS text or email, or both.

“That’s really our goal, is to make that process as easy as possible,” Essensa said.

There has also been increased interest in mail-in ballots in recent Canadian elections. Applications are available for mail-in voting kits from May 4 to May 27.

Meanwhile, Elections Ontario needs to recruit about 55,000 people to make that all happen. There will be anywhere from 700 to 1,200 temporary jobs available in each Ontario riding  some for the entire 10-day period and some just for election day.

Recruiting has already begun. More information is available online at Elections Ontario.


 May 4 is writ day, when the election is officially called

— May 4 mail-in voting kits become available

— May 27 is the deadline for mail-in ballots

— June 2 is voting day