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City Council going for “voter suppression” says Bradley

cover of First Monday featuring photos of Margaret Misek-Evans and Dianne Gould-Brown

What we are dealing with at City Hall is “voter suppression”.

That’s the view of Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley who is “deeply concerned” about the lack of paper ballots in next year’s municipal election. “Ninety per cent of Ontario municipalities still have paper ballots but not Sarnia”.

Bradley, who isn’t permitted to speak to Chief Administrative Officer Margaret Misek – Evans believes her administration is attempting to erode his voter base by forcing electronic voting on seniors and baby boomers.

“The public was never asked about paper ballots and I suspect the decision was deliberate. We’ve always used paper ballots and had polling stations in retirement homes, schools and churches”.

But not next year.

“Voting is an essential right of democracy and the public has a right to speak on this issue. This administration and this City Council ignored all that for the sake of cost,” says Bradley.

Clerk, Dianne Gould – Brown maintains the City’s aging paper ballot system needed to be upgraded and the administration felt it could get the same result at lower cost by switch to electronic voting.

However, there has been a backlash.

The Lambton Seniors Association is petitioning to reinstate paper ballots and Councillor David Boushy has offered to present a motion to reconsider.

While Boushy is willing to present the motion he isn’t optimistic about success. “My gut tells me this administration and this Council have made up their minds at the expense of the taxpayer”. And he suggests most of the incumbents will pay the price at next year’s municipal election.

“What this Council is doing is not right and it will be reflected at the polls,” says Boushy. “Most of my colleagues are toast. The feedback I’m getting is most will not be re-elected”.

Boushy says, “If they run, they are done” adding “Centennial Park is a visual that voters won’t forget. It is a joke. What are we at $13.5 million into this project and we still don’t have our million dollar boat ramps?”

Boushy adds, “This Council can chew through reserves, increase the municipal debt. and do a lousy job at Centennial Park but can’t find the money to hold a proper election with paper ballots”.

Bradley estimates it would cost taxpayers about $400,000.00 for a municipal election with paper ballots describing it as “the price of democracy”.

The City administration opted to spend $130,000.00 using a financially troubled electronic voting company with a troubled history from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  Council accepted that option.

Boushy says he will seek re – election next year and if he wins he intends to remind Chief Administrative Officer Margaret Misek – Evans “that the public didn’t vote for her”.

“There is a message coming to this administration and this City Council and the public will deliver it whether there are paper ballots or not” says Boushy.

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