Elections Ontario recommends weekend or holiday election day, more early voting

Ontario's next trip to the ballot box in 2022 could look very different.

Elections Ontario is recommending a legislative change that would bump election day to a day where schools are not in session, likely falling on a weekend or holiday. Right now, Ontario voters go to the polls on the first Thursday in June.

Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa describes schools as "foundational" to running elections. They are ideal polling locations since they are convenient, familiar to members of the surrounding community and tend to meet accessibility standards. By concerns have been raised about student safety with so many strangers flowing in and out.

"Although Elections Ontario pays for security at schools, the safety and security of school children would be enhanced by moving election day to a day when schools are not in session," Essensa writes.

The recommendation is one of in a series included in Elections Ontario's post-mortem on the 2018 province-wide vote. NEWSTALK 1010 has asked the Premier's office whether the government is willing to entertain any of them.

The elections office thinks Ontario should double the number of advance polling days from five to 10. It says these should be 'rotating' polls that shift to meet voter needs and behaviour. Elections Ontario says public polling done on its behalf shows people want more options to vote early and their expectations weren't met in 2018.

Essensa is advocating for a longer writ period, calling the current 29-day model "insufficient" to provide Ontarians with all the voting options they want. While Essensa does not recommend a particular duration, he says most other provinces have writ periods lasting 29 to 36 days.

Elections Ontario says their public opinion polling shows support for online voting waned to 33 per cent after the 2018 election. It was at 49 per cent following the 2014 election.

The other recommendations from the elections watchdog are:

-Provide a regular, scheduled review of electoral district boundaries to maintain effective representation for Ontario’s growing population

-Establish standards for voting technology to preserve the integrity of the vote for Ontario elections

-Establish a single address authority to standardize addressing across Ontario and improve services that rely on address information

-Make Elections Ontario responsible for municipal voters lists to increase consistency and accuracy between voters lists

-Allow Elections Ontario to levy administrative penalties to address minor infractions of the Election Act and Election Finances Act

-Set a threshold for audit of financial statements from political entities to reduce the subsidies paid to auditors by Elections Ontario

-Subject Ontario’s political parties to privacy laws to protect the personal information of voters

-Make administrative and technical adjustments to the Election Act and Election Finances Act to streamline processes and meet changing needs