Essex Adopts New Rules Governing Election Complaints

AM800-News-Essex-Town-Hall

The Town of Essex adopted new rules when it comes to complaints during a municipal election Tuesday night.

In October of 2018, OPP were called in to investigate after several complaints were received alleging proxy ballots were being signed without proper consent during the election.

Ward 4 Councillor Sherry Bondy says it was unclear what steps were to be taken when complaints that fall under the Criminal Code came and it delayed an investigation. 

There are now concrete rules in place directing the town clerk to seek independent legal counsel for further advice if necessary, go to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs or call in the OPP.

Bondy pushed for changes following the election in 2018 and says the new rules will help ensure the issue never comes up again.

"There were complaints in our last election and the OPP did come in and investigate, but it took a long time," she says. "If there are other complaints it's now laid out when the clerk should respond, they should respond in writing within 24 hours, so now people will get answers back to those complaints."

She hopes it restores some faith in the system for voters.

"If our residents don't feel like our election is safe and secure, then they're not going to trust municipal politics and that's something I don't want," says Bondy. "If residents have concerns they need to find an avenue to get answers."

Bondy tells AM800 News there's still more work to be done to address issues that came up in 2018.

"We have changes to our proxy forms, we have changes to election sign by-law, which is also very important," she says. "We have more pieces of the puzzle coming."

The investigation in 2018 resulted in now Mayor Larry Snively being charged with procuring persons to vote in a municipal election when those persons were not entitled to do so in February of 2020.

The matter is still before the courts.