The Municipal Elections Act of Ontario, Canada, is imperative in outlining rules and responsibilities given to not only the municipal council but also all members of the community to ensure free and fair municipal elections. The Municipal Elections Act covers essential aspects such as ensuring the conduct of school boards and municipal boards in Ontario during elections. The act puts in place rules and responsibilities for voters and members of the community willing to vie for various seats (Goodman, 2019). Elections are a major part of the modern century and therefore essential for democracy and a free and just society. The Municipal Elections Act thereby sets out various rules that are used during the administration of the elections, (Cardillo et al, 2019).
How the Act Works
Generally, the Act ensures that the elected members of the Municipal council are credible and elected fairly. Ontario has been a major business hub in Canada, and municipal elections are important since they reflect the present changes in democracy in the modern world. As such, the Municipal Elections Act was created to ensure eligibility criteria for not only candidates but also voters. The Act is also equipped with the mandate of setting the election dates and rolling out programs and timetables to be followed during the election date. In Ontario, the Municipal Act is also important in establishing and running the whole election process and also ensuring that materials necessary during elections are outlined, and procedures on how to use them are outlined (Goodman, 2019). Other functions include the provision of judicial reviews on matters affiliated with elections, providing recounts, outlining any unlawful and malpractices that should be avoided during elections, describing possible penalties for those found guilty, and finally, the Act describes the various procedures of collecting and disposing of ballots.
Municipal Elections Act and other legislative aspects have progressed in the past few years. However, this has been faced with various predicaments that tend to deter the efficiency of the Act (Johnson, 2020). At various points during the restructuring of the acts in Ontario, environmental sustainability, deconstruction of the economy, pressure due to managing growth of the municipality, demographic changes, and the subsequent shifting of public expectations from the municipal council and elected members of the council have been major challenges for the act. The municipality is further characterized by an increase in complexity between provincial and municipality relations, a consequent growing recognition affiliated with the roles of cities, and metropolitan areas that play at the center of national prosperity and growth.
Barriers Faced by the Municipal Elections Act
Barriers faced by the Municipality Election Act in Ontario put pressure on the structure and scale of the arrangements made for governance, and delivery of service to the members of the community, (Johnson, 2020). As the scope and size of municipal responsibilities and roles grow over time, the interconnectedness and breadth of policies, financial and services delivery to the members of the community and voters grow too (Kurs, 2020). It is therefore imperative to point out predicaments facing the Municipality Elections Act and more so, provide possible solutions to ensure credible elections at the local government level.
One of the major barriers facing the Municipal Elections Act in the province of Ontario is incompetence among municipality clerks and election officials. Every four years, the Province of Ontario elects school board municipal trustees who are all elected under the Election Act (Kurs, 2020). However, because the municipalities are tasked with the mandate of conducting elections for their council across the province and are also responsible for the election of school trustees, the working of the Act is affected by incompetent administrators who weaken the essence of the acts (Johnson, 2020). Each municipality has a municipal clerk who has the mandate of running the municipal elections and under the Act, he or she is expected to outline how the members of the community should vote, where they should vote, and define the eligibility of voters. The province of Ontario has not only been faced with poor efforts by the municipal clerks to run the elections but also faced predicaments in incorporating the Municipal Elections Act during the election process. It is therefore important to ensure that the barrier is eradicated. As such, competent reforms across the Municipal Election Acts ought to be done to ensure free and fair elections (Goodman, 2019).
Incompetence among municipal clerks during the implementation of the Municipal Elections Act in Ontario can be solved by ensuring quality training for the administrators before and after the election dates. The government of Ontario should therefore deduce a strategy that will ensure administrators during elections are competent enough to enact the Act and more so, deliver free and fair elections (Goodman, 2019). Training programs for municipality clerks should be incorporated to ensure skillful and competent administrators during elections. In conclusion, the government of Ontario should reduce the knowledge deficit among members of the community on the outlined Municipal Elections Act. This will ensure everyone is aware of what is expected and roles acquitted during municipal elections and school board trustees’ elections.
Cardillo, A., Akinyokun, N., & Essex, A. (2019, October). Online voting in Ontario municipal elections: a conflict of legal principles and technology?. In International Joint Conference on Electronic Voting (pp. 67-82). Springer, Cham.
Goodman, N., & Spicer, Z. (2019). Administering elections in a digital age: Online voting in Ontario municipalities. Canadian Public Administration, 62(3), 369-392.
Johnson, J. (2020). The 2018 Toronto Municipal Election: Judicial Failure to Protect the Structure of the Canadian Constitution. Const. F., 29, 1.
Kurs, C. (2020). Administering a Ranked-Choice Voting Election: Lessons from London, Ontario.