Brampton council considering $370,000 vote-by-mail program for October municipal elections

By Ryan Rumbolt

Published on March 1, 2022 at 11:00 a.m.

Brampton City Council is considering changing bylaws to allow mail-in voting for the city’s municipal elections later this year.

Voters in Brampton will head to the polls in October, and proposed bylaw changes to be brought to council on Wednesday (March 2) could allow for advanced mail-in voting.

The council previously approved the relaunch of a door-to-door voting service as an alternative method for Brampton voters who are housebound due to illness, injury or disability.

But city staff are now recommending repealing the door-to-door voting option in favor of mail-in ballots at a cost of more than $370,000.

“Staff believe the mail-in voting program can accommodate voters who would be served by the door-to-door voting service,” read a report to the council. “Based on initial research and benchmarking, staff understands that the special mail-in voting program will require significant time and effort to plan and implement.”

If the mail-in option is approved by council, the city will need to purchase additional resources, including a software module to manage mail-in voting applications and two high-speed vote tabulators to process ballots more quickly. . The city also estimates that five additional election workers would be needed to coordinate and implement the mail-out program.

More than 10,000 Brampton voters voted by mail in the 2021 federal election, and the city projects the program would cost at least $372,050, including a 10% contingency, using an estimate of 12,000 voters using the mailing option. The city said those costs would be covered by city reserves.

While mail-in ballots would make it more convenient for voters and provide an alternative for residents who can’t get to a polling place, the city said there are also risks, including being having to rely on the mail system and the possibility of ballots being lost or damaged in the mail.

“Absentee voting would not be an accessible method of voting for voters who move or who are homeless or do not have a consistent address,” the report said.

Proposed bylaw changes will be brought to council on Wednesday.

The city says other major Ontario municipalities like Mississauga, Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto could also implement a special mail-in ballot program for their municipal elections.

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Ryan H. Bowman