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Home News Scrap opinion poll reporting in last two weeks of campaign: Ontario Chief Elections Officer

Scrap opinion poll reporting in last two weeks of campaign: Ontario Chief Elections Officer

Greg Essensa, Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer thinks public opinion polls may have been a factor in the low turnout in the 2022 Ontario Election where only 44 percent of voters turned out. Most polls correctly predicted that the PCs would form a majority government for the second time. In his report on the 2022 Election, Essensa recommends banning the publication of polls in the last two weeks of a campaign. He wrote, “during the 2022 Ontario provincial general election, an average of 2.5 polls per day, or  36 in total, were released in the two-week period leading up to election day on June 2. Political polls have the potential to influence election results by either motivating or demotivating electors. The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that no public opinion polling results stating political party favorability ratings be published in the final two weeks before election day.”

Perhaps a function of the public’s growing mistrust of the internet in the wake of allegations of foreign interference in elections, there was a significant decrease in support for online voting following this election. When asked in a post-election survey about alternative voting methods, only 23 per cent of electors indicated support for online voting compared to 2018 (33 per cent) and 2014  (49 per cent).

Recognizing an aging population in Ontario and the number of people experiencing some form of disability, Elections Ontario made sure that the location met the accessibility requirements of the Ontario Building Code and the AODA. Service animals were allowed, and electors could bring family members, friends, or support people, or ask election officials to help them vote. Election officials at the polls were trained to provide accessible customer service and could even bring the ballot and ballot box outside the poll to an elector. Electors were also able to apply at the returning office to transfer to another voting location that better met their accessibility needs.

  • Some other accessibility improvements included:
  • Hospital visits, sending staff into hospitals to allow patients to vote
  • Providing certificate of identity to homes persons so they can vote
  • Assistive voting tools were provided at voting locations to help electors with disabilities  vote independently and in secrecy. Tools include magnifiers, Braille ballot templates that have raised numbers and cut-outs to assist electors with reduced visibility or vision loss and writing pads for communicating with electors with hearing loss. Electors could also use their mobile phones at the polls for assistance purposes.
  • Curbside voting
  • Bigger font on ballot

The report expressed a preference for schools as voting places because they are well-known to voters and have sufficient space to allow social distancing, but noted that while the Elections Act requires that these facilities be made available free of charge, some school boards were charging for hydro and clean up. The report also expressed concern that the owners of some apartment buildings objected to non-residents accessing the buildings to vote.

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