Kitchener to reprint 19,500 ballots to include candidate’s middle name

Posted On Friday September 28, 2018

Kitchener – In order to meet advanced polling dates, the City of Kitchener is proceeding with reprinting approximately 19,500 ballots and reprogramming tabulator memory cards following an application to the court to include the middle name of a candidate on the ballot in Ward 2.

Under the Municipal Elections Act (MEA), the city clerk has the authority to determine how candidates’ names are presented on the ballot. For the Oct. 22 election, the clerk determined that only first and last names would be printed in order to ensure the ballot’s readability and to make the process of selecting a desired candidate easy and clear for voters. This is consistent with the city’s past practice in prior elections.

On Sept. 19 the candidate spoke to the clerk, seeking reprinting of the ballots to include her middle name. Reprinting ballots is a complex task because the city uses electronic tabulators, which need to be programmed to match the printed ballots. Given the time needed and complexity involved with re-printing ballots, re-programming memory cards and conducting the necessary testing and audit activities, staff determined it was not in the best interest of the electorate to accommodate the request.

On Sept. 27, the city received notification that the candidate was pursuing legal action to compel the city to reprint the ballots, with a court date of Oct. 3. Bringing this matter before the courts within a week of the Oct. 10 advanced polls would put the city’s ability to deliver a credible election in jeopardy.

Out of an abundance of caution to ensure the election moves forward on schedule with absolute integrity, the city will be reprinting ballots for Ward 2, and reprogramming memory cards and tabulator machines. To ensure fairness and transparency for all candidates, the clerk reached out to 11 additional candidates who indicated a middle name or middle initial on their application to allow the option of including their middle name on the ballot. These candidates were all satisfied with only the first and last names appearing on the ballot as printed.

The city stands behind the clerk’s original decision to include first and last names on the ballot only, which is compliant with the Municipal Election Act. Significant work has been underway for the past 18 months to prepare for and run the 2018 municipal election. The decision to reprint ballots and reprogram election equipment at additional costs to taxpayers was not made lightly; it was made with the best interests of the electorate in mind.

The city’s ability to proceed with a reprint is possible in part to extraordinary measures by Dominion Voting, the company that provides the election tabulator machines and supplies the ballots. Dominion Voting is able to adjust their docket to complete the necessary work in light of this legal action.

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