Telephone Voting

How it Works

Voter information letters are mailed out to those listed on the voters list as being eligible to vote in Collingwood. The voter information letter will provide the voter with instructions on when and how to vote using a telephone to cast a ballot, and provide the voter with a unique voter ID and voter PIN number that will identify the voter when logging into the voting system to cast a ballot.

At any point during the voting period, voters can log into the voting system over the telephone using their voter information provided in their voter information letter and answer a security question (generally date of birth). The voter is then required to agree to a voter declaration confirming their eligibility to vote and that it is the voter that is casting the ballot. Voters then choose their preferred candidates from each of the races through audio prompts and keypad selections and confirm their final ballot prior to submission. Once the voter is satisfied with the selections, the voter casts the ballot using a keypad selection and received confirmation that the ballot has been cast.

Similar to a traditional paper ballot, once the ballot has been cast, it is no longer associated with the voter and the voters name is marked off on the voters list as having voted. Results are stored on remote servers that are inaccessible until after the voting period has closed. At the end of voting day, the votes are calculated using a click of a button, in the same manner as internet voting.

Benefits

  • Telephone voting was used in conjunction with internet voting in the 2018 Municipal and School Board Election and is familiar to voters who cast their ballot over the telephone in 2018.
  • It allows the voter to vote anywhere at any time, providing convenience and accessibility to the ballot.
  • Voters that use assisted devices associated with the telephone can access and complete the ballot independently.
  • A ballot cannot be spoiled or rejected as the voting system does not allow a voter to over vote, and there is no ability to write notes or other markings on the ballot face that would cause a ballot to be rejected.
  • Results of the election are provided immediately following the close of voting.
  • Should pandemic still be an issue, this method would create the fewest complexities with regards to maintaining COVID-19 protocols as voters would not be required to travel to a voting location to cast a ballot.

Challenges

  • Dependent on the accuracy of the voters list as voter information letters are mailed to only those listed on the voters list.
  • The pronunciation of candidate names may be difficult to hear clearly and not recorded correctly.
  • The list of candidates can be long and difficult for the voter to listen to making the voting experience slow and cumbersome reducing its accessibility benefits.
  • If there are a large number of candidates, the phone system may time out requiring the voter to start over again and can take up to 20 minutes to cast a ballot.
  • Lack of ability to confirm the voter’s identity and eligibility in person, relying on the voter to be truthful when completing the declaration of eligibility to vote.
  • This voting method is not being recommended in the 2022 Municipal and School Board Election due to the challenges associated with the large number of candidates in an at-large election.

Environmental Considerations

All voting methods use paper in some form. Telephone voting is similar to internet voting as it consumes the least amount of paper as it only requires a voter information letter and mailing envelope which is mailed out to all voters that are listed on the voters list. The paper used is recyclable and staff will endeavour to remind voters to recycle the material, and request that unused voter material be ‘return to sender’ (the Town) for appropriate safe disposal and voter list management.

Telephone voting promotes the reduction of our carbon footprint as voters are able to vote in the comfort of their own home not having to travel to a voting location to cast a ballot. It also eliminates the requirement to visit a postal box, post office or Town Hall to return a ballot as needed for the mail-in voting method, or travel to a voting location to cast a traditional paper ballot.

Although telephone voting uses less paper and eliminates the need for transportation to cast a ballot, it uses electricity to power the servers that host the voting method and the global networks that connect the telephone to the hosting site. It has been proven that although telephone voting is not perfect in terms of sustainability, it produces far less greenhouse gas emissions than other forms of voting.


Approximate Cost: $3.12 per registered voter

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