This week's municipal election in Oro-Medonte made waves after voters ousted almost the entire previous council, but the township is also being questioned now on accessibility options at a local polling station.
BarrieToday received an email from voter Sandy Richmond regarding the voting situation at Shanty Bay Public School indicating that, in order to vote this past Monday, people had to walk downstairs to get to the gym. This was concerning to Richmond.
"I thought all voting places had to be acceptable to all? Did the township make a mistake on this location? I guess they could bring up the ballot, but the voter would not see the ballot go in n the voting machine," Richmond said.
Township spokesperson Jenny Legget said anyone looking to cast a vote was able to despite one station not being fully accessible. She said municipal officials knew Shanty Bay Public School wasn't fully accessible, but that it was made known to voters there were several other options.
“The discussion with the school administration was that it wasn’t very accessible. They used to have a ramp, but no longer do as of right now,” Legget told BarrieToday. “After a big discussion, it was decided that we would make this a vote-anywhere election.”
The 'vote-anywhere' option meant that, regardless of a person's ward, they could cast their ballot at any voting station in the township.
Legget said the reason was twofold: One reason was Shanty Bay school's lack of accessibility, and secondly because there wasn't one large, central gathering place in the township.
“As well, on the back of the voter's card, it clearly stated that Shanty Bay school was not accessible," she said. "It was also on the website so as to let as many people know as possible.
“There was also a proxy option, a vote-by-mail option and another thing we did was the ballot was brought to them — if they couldn't get to the gymnasium — and the person with them could watch the ballot taken back to the tabulator," Legget added.
Legget said she appreciated any concerns that have been raised about accessibility, but said anyone who needed to cast a ballot had a multitude of ways to do so.
“I was at another location and we had maybe two or three people come there to vote who had previously gone to Shanty Bay school,” she said.
The election in Oro-Medonte saw new councillors chosen in all six wards. Longtime mayor Harry Hughes was voted out and replaced by Ward 5 Coun. Randy Greenlaw.