By Mark Squibb | April 8, 2021
Paradise council has voted to purchase additional software which will allow residents to vote by mail in the upcoming municipal election.
The town has used Voterview Election Management System provided by Datafix to manage the voter list over the past several elections.
“Datafix integrates well with our current website provider, as well as our mobile app that we have,” said Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie during the April 6 council meeting.
The program needed to be renewed by the town for the next four year-election term.
“These modules provide staff with the ability to manage the voter’s list and allow eligible voters to check online to see if they’re actually on the list,” said Laurie, adding that because electors are authorized to vote by mail in the upcoming election, the Town will need to purchase the vote-by-mail module from Datafix.
“The vote by mail module will allow eligible voters to request a mail in, online ballot and upload applicable documentation and identification,” said Laurie. “Staff will also be able to review and approve the requests online, so residents can also track the status of their request as well.”
In addition, Datafix offers an online voter registration module, which the Town will also be purchasing. “So, if an elector is not on the list, they can submit all required documentation and information online to request to be added to the list,” said Laurie.
The total cost to renew the agreement with Datafix and purchase the additional vote by mail and the online voter registration modules is $18,975, HST included.
“The implementation of the vote by mail provides another option for the electorate of Paradise to vote,” she said.
Councilor Patrick Martin asked for clarification on who will receive a mail order ballot.
“So, the only people that will get a ballot are those who request a ballot?” asked Martin, noting there will be people who may not have access to the internet.
Laurie said the decision to have electors request ballots, rather than do a mass mail out of ballots, will reduce the risk of fraud.
Town CAO Lisa Niblock said planning for the election is in the early stages, but the Town may be able to have students come onboard to make calls and walk people through the program.
“We do understand there are going to be some barriers for people, but we will make it as accessible as we can,” said Liblock, who reminded council that in-person voting would still be offered, and that the vote-by-mail option was being offered alongside of, not in place of, traditional, in-person voting.
Later in the discussion, Martin clarified that he had no problem with the voting by mail.
“I’m totally okay with the process,” he said. “I just wanted to get clarified information for my own knowledge, just in case we get asked, and I’m sure we’re all going to get questions.”
Martin thanked staff for starting early on preparations for the mail-in voting. “Besides the City of St. John’s, to my knowledge we are the first municipality to apply for any mail-in-voting, to my knowledge,” he said.