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Planning for the next election

(Cartoon by Lance Goosen)

As government grapples with the effects of COVID-19, local councillors are looking ahead to the next municipal election.

And while the election is still two years away, planning and installation of new measures for an election could well take that much time.

COVID-19 has changed our world, like 9/11 changed us nearly 20 years ago. Social distancing and wearing a mask are now the new normal as are vacuous stores, the smell of antiseptic and plastic barriers.

So it makes sense to prepare for our new way of life, including how we intend to cast our votes.

Municipalities across the province are putting some effort into how we will go forward in the next local election.

Oshawa’s staff have come up with a few ideas, including online and over the phone voting, plus a hybrid of in-person and online.

But councillors are stuck on what to do. Some believe more public consultation is needed, and others don’t think it’s fair to some demographics, like seniors, if the city switches to a more technology-based mode of voting.

Our lives have migrated online, whether we like it or not. It’s everywhere, from shopping to banking to paying bills. It’s hard to get service in person these days.

The election process will be no different, whether in Oshawa or other cities across the province. Online is our new way of life and voters will expect that option.

But the issue of deciding on how people will vote is too big for Oshawa to battle alone. There needs to be a provincial consortium on how to proceed with collective financial and intellectual support.

Luckily, the federal government will lead the way in the election process and the city can ride the coattails of safe measures that will be used in the federal election.

So while planning ahead locally is good, municipalities province-wide need to join forces on this one.