election feature lighthouse

Hub Staff

Nearly half of eligible voters in Saugeen Shores cast their ballot in this year's municipal election, with the 70 to 79 age group being the highest voter turn-out at 61.12 percent.

The 49.51 percent of voters who made their voice heard consisted of 6,066 people across all three wards. Saugeen Township saw 49.23 percent voter turnout with 1,275 voting, Port Elgin had a lower turnout at 46.97 percent or 2,653 voters, and Southampton saw the highest turnout with 53.27 percent and 2,137 voters.

During the 2014 municipal election the overall turnout was higher at 57.02 percent. A key difference in 2014 was a mayoral race whereas this year Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau was the only one to put his name forward and therefore was acclaimed. The 57.02 percentage in 2014 represented 6,707 votes with the Saugeen Ward showing 58.84 percent, the Port Elgin 53.16 percent, and the Southampton Ward 62.82 percent.

Town Clerk Linda White, who helped oversee the in-person voting station and the Help Centre at the municipal office, said she received a number of comments from new residents who said they were so new to town they didn’t want to make an ill-informed decision and chose instead not to vote.

“The lowest voter turnout was with the age group 18-29 with 34.02 percent," said White November 1, adding that voter turnout generally increased with each age group. "If all ages voted with the same interest as the 70 to 79 age group, Saugeen Shores would have experienced an over 60 percent voter turnout," she said.

White noted that over the voting period from October 12 to the extended date of October 23, 204 people voted in person at the Town office while 5,173 people voted online and 689 people voted via telephone.

White said that on the first day of voting 627 people voted and on Election Day, October 22, 1,022 ballots were cast. With the hiccup in online voting that saw widespread system outages from 5:45 until 8 p.m. on election day, the voting period was extended 24 hours. During the extended period 349 people cast their vote.

Dominion Voting Systems, the company used in Saugeen Shores and 50 other municipalities across Ontario for the 2018 election, explained in a statement that the system outages were the result of unauthorized bandwidth limits placed by a Toronto-based colocation provider. Once aware of the problem, Dominion was able to identify the source and resolve the issue, read the statement.

When asked if the Town would again use Dominion Voting Systems, White said staff would begin to prepare for the 2022 election in two and a half to three years. "All suppliers and advancements in technology will be evaluated," she said. "The slow down in technology in 2018 will not necessarily be reflective of technology advancements or challenges in 2022," she added.

"It is very unfortunate that the service to our electors was disrupted on Election Day," she said, adding that voters were happy about the extended 24-hour voting period and that it continued the democratic process.

During the voting period candidates were able to view online the number of voters in their respective riding and were able to see who had and had not voted. Staff also had access to this information. However, which candidates electors voted for was kept private. 

“The number of people voted, we could see, but as soon as they put in their credentials, cast their ballot, their ballot went into an electronic ballot box and got separated from any of their credentials," explained White. "So we had absolutely no way of seeing how a person voted," she said.

Voter turnout by age for the 2018 municipal election compared to 2014 was as follows:

18-29 age group: 34.02% in 2018 and 34.06% in 2014
30-39 age group: 41.30% in 2018 and 35.94% in 2014
40-49 age group: 42.56% in 2018 and 43.40% in 2014
50-59 age group: 47.03% in 2018 and 57.19% in 2014
60-69 age group: 59.25% in 2018 and 71.89% in 2014
70-79 age group: 61.12% in 2018 and 77.27% in 2014
80-102 age group: 42.84% in 2018 and 66.30% in 2014

See also:

Introducing your next Saugeen Shores Council

More on the voting system issues

Voting extended 24 hours