The City of Guelph might be getting the option for mail-in ballots for their 2022 municipal election as a new report recommends council to approve the option in addition to in-person ballots.
According to Stephen O'Brien, General Manager at the City of Guelph Clerk's Office, the mail-in option has been used by many different municipalities across Canada, and the method has been well tested.
"The provincial election in British Columbia...early on during the pandemic they employed a vote by mail option and some other larger municipalities that have had by-elections in Ontario have used vote by mail in recent history."
O'Brien said mail-in ballots are not that different than voting in-person, as they will still use paper ballots, and the same vote-counting system that is used for in-person ballots will be done for mail-ins.
"It creates a familiarity, so you've got people who are familiar with navigating a paper ballot they are used to that. They go to a voting location traditionally and they use paper ballots, so there is a level of familiarity."
City staff say if the pandemic continues well into next year, this may be a solid option that would be put into place and planned well before the 2022 election.
"We think that a vote by mail option is a solid option that addresses the challenges of working and delivering municipal elections during a pandemic. We may or may not have a pandemic before us in October of 2022. We may be out of it hopefully, but we can give this a good service option."
Council will discuss the report at a special meeting scheduled for February 17, 2021, at 6:00 p.m.