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Municipal election projected to cost over $190k, six advance polls planned

Posted June 17, 2014

The budget to run the 2014 municipal elections in New Tecumseth has increased from $106,677 to $190,900 because the initial estimate based on the 2010 campaign was based on incomplete financial disclosures of costs, according to the Town's new Clerk.

Cindy Anne Maher, who took over the municipal election file when she started working for the Town on March 4, said the 2010 election accounting could not be fully tracked because various costs where reportedly charged back to different accounts.

Ms. Maher said the actual expenses recorded for 2010 were shown as approximately $75,000, "prior to being recorded properly."

"Its been difficult to determine the exact figure, but it's approximately $110,000," she said. "Apparently it was coded differently and was not alloted to that (election) account. I tried to track it down; It has been coded to other accounts, but I have been unable to determine that. What I did in fact do was calculate what would have been spent and added it in."

The bulk of the 79 per cent increase in budget for 2014 is to accommodate six advance polling days, and the addition of temporary staff and computer equipment, printing and advertising. The updated cost works out to about $7.42 per elector.

Ward 3 councillor Paul Whiteside expressed concern about the unfunded additional expenses, and suggested scaling back the number of advance polls to two Saturdays.

"There would obviously be a savings," said Ms. Maher. "The reason we put forward the number of dates is we'd like to encourage people, as many as we can, come out to the advance polls. We would like to reduce the lineups and be able to manage the polls accurately, and we also want to provide as many people as we can with the ability to come out and actually vote, that's the reason that we're making the fire station available for accessible voting only."

Mr. Whiteside, replied, "I think everybody agrees we'd like to hold as many polls as possible, but we have to balance it with the cost."

He also was opposed to using Hydro Electric Commission (HEC) reserve fund to pay for the shortfall, suggesting instead, which was approved by council, to flow with year-end surplus.

Mayor Mike MacEachern was opposed to reducing any opportunities to cast ballots because of money considerations.

"What we should be weighing on is trying to encourage as many people to vote as possible and not wrecking the effectiveness of an election just solely based on cost," said the mayor. "I don't think that's reasonable. I'm looking to the staff to run an election that is going to allow the most people as possible to vote. And I'm sure you're considering the financial impact of that as you come forward. So any way we reduce this is only going to minimize the amount of opportunity for people to vote."

Ward 6 councillor Richard Norcross agreed, citing complaints in 2010 about long line-ups and accessibility issues on election night.

"We should give people as much of an opportunity as we can," said Mr. Norcross. "We need to encourage them to vote, we need to make it as accessible as possible and a couple of different opportunities that they can get out and exercise that right to vote."

Advance polls in New Tecumseth will take place Oct. 11, 15, 17, 18, 20, and 21. Election Day is Oct. 27th.

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