TRURO - An election official reminds voters in Truro that change is a good thing.
Jud Pearson, the returning officer for the town's election, which begins today, said electronic voting by telephone and Internet has many benefits. It's the first time the town has gone solely electronic for voting, which begins at noon today and ends election day, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.
"This should be a positive way for people to vote and it's in the privacy of their home," said Pearson.
Pearson said he has "hardly had any calls" asking about the system, but he's heard some fears that it may not be a simple process.
"It's so easy. All you have to do is read your voter information card and follow the steps. It only takes three minutes on the computer and five minutes at the most on the phone," said Pearson.
He advises people to not wait until the last minute to vote.
"This is a change for people but there are 10 days to vote ... there's more time to vote than ever before. People should try to vote early so it doesn't jam at the end," he said.
In the 2008 municipal election, about 30 per cent of eligible voters cast a paper ballot. There are 9,133 people who can vote in Truro this election, which is about the same as the last election. Pearson said using technology to vote aims to increase voter turnout and provide quick results.
"We should know the results in 15 minutes after voting closes. It's more efficient than paper ballots," Pearson said, adding using electronic voting has been considered for a few years.
"We thought why go half way? If we are going electronic voting, there's no need to do paper. Paper would add to the cost and add more staffing and you'd be duplicating the process."
And all voters can be reached by electronic voting, said Pearson stressed. Most people have a phone and/or Internet and those who don't can help each other or seek help, he said.
"And all nursing homes will have a deputy returning officer ... administrators set up on different days at the homes."
There are also access sites in town and specific help can be obtained at the civic building on Prince Street.
Ken Henderson, assistant returning officer, said the system works.
"More than 60 per cent of residents over the age of 65 use the Internet daily and there's been a general increase in voter turnout using electronic voting across Canada," Henderson said, quoting a Canada Statistics report from 2009.
Henderson said he's heard a lot of comments about the new system, mostly positive.
"Most of the feedback we are getting is good. I've only had two objections and some seniors have called to get instructions," Henderson said earlier in the week.
The concerns he has heard have included fears of technical problems arising or how safe it is to vote electronically.
"Nothing is foolproof but we're all set and the system is checked (continuously)," he said.
As far as safety issues, he reminds people that even ballots are not foolproof.
"Ballot boxes have been stolen in the past," Henderson said.
To vote follow the instructions on your voter information card received by mail. The phone number is on the card and the web address is www.truro.isivote.com. Make sure to put the web address in the web browser (Internet Explorer, etc.) and not in the Google bar.
Daily voter updates will appear in the Truro Daily News and on www.trurodaily.com daily throughout the election.