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Election Night failure: City getting a rebate from online vote provider

Other municipalities affected by collapse of online voting in October receiving rebates of between 20% and 55%
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Greater Sudbury is getting some money back on its election costs because of the October 2018 voting meltdown that saw balloting extended for an extra day. (Stock)

Greater Sudbury is getting some money back on its election costs because of the October 2018 voting meltdown that saw balloting extended for an extra day.

A total of 51 municipalities that held their election online using Dominion Voting services were affected. An Internet provider used by Dominion mistakenly placed a limit on online traffic the day of the vote, Oct. 22. That caused the system to ground to a halt between 5:45 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. voting day. 

Some of the communities extended voting hours, while others, including Greater Sudbury, extended voting an extra day.

In an email, city communications officer Shannon Dowling said the 51 municipalities agreed to appoint a small group to negotiate with Dominion, including city clerk Eric Labelle, who is also the city solicitor.

“Negotiations resulted in a reduction in price for services for all of the affected municipalities,” Dowling said. “Details of the reduction will be included in a post-election information report to city council, anticipated for Feb. 12.”

Dominion won the Greater Sudbury contract with a bid of $263,420 in July 2017, beating out three other providers. The city opted to go online only because adding the paper ballot option on election day would have cost more than $500,000 more.

While details of how much Dominion will rebate the city won't be revealed until Feb. 12, the City of Collingwood reported this week it is receiving a 55 per cent discount on the final phase of the election. Like Sudbury, Collingwood extended voting an extra day. It was the same in Pembroke, where officials reported this week they are getting 20 per cent off their entire bill from Dominion, which amounts to $3,000.

If Greater Sudbury also receives a 20 per cent rebate, it would amount to roughly $52,000.
 
City council voted 7-6 in May 2017 to have the online-only vote. When the problems emerged election night, Mayor Brian Bigger said he was “disgusted” and demanded an explanation from city staff “who put this process in place and why there was no back up plan in place.

“There will be consequences for those who made poor choices that impeded the process in our city.”

Since the vote, the city hired Oraclepoll Research to survey residents on the election, such as whether they liked online voting and whether a paper ballot option should be included in the 2022 election. The Feb. 12 election report is expected to include the results of that poll.

Turnout during the Oct. 22-23 election in Greater Sudbury was 45 per cent, down from the roughly 50 per cent in 2014, but above the Ontario average of 37.61 per cent. A total of 52,087 residents voted, with 81.79 per cent voting ahead of time, or 42,602.

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