No voting place in north-end Cornwall for municipal election has city councillors concerned

In this October 2018, file photo, a sign greets voters outside a polling station at the Benson Center in Cornwall, Ont. City councillors are concerned there's no voting location in the north end of the city and that will hurt voter turnout. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The city’s municipal election plans have come under scrutiny for the number of locations and a lack of voting locations in the north end of the city.

Coun. Justin Towndale raised concerns Monday about the four locations, saying there were 10 in the 2018 election. “That seems low…I’m a little concerned about that…It would appear the north end of town doesn’t have a voting center.”

City Clerk Manon Levesque explained there are fewer locations due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the city wanted to “avoid all schools” due to school security and COVID. She said the size of the four locations is larger to accommodate more voters and staff.

Asked by Towndale whether there’s a concern about low voter turnout, Levesque said the four are “well located” and “popular” locations right across the city.

They are the Benson Center, the EMS station on Campbell Street, Cornwall Square and St. Felix de Valois Church on Glengarry Boulevard.

People are allowed to vote at any location and only need a piece of ID with their name and address or their voter card.

“There’s nothing for the people in the north end. That’s a long haul,” Coun. Todd Bennett said. “If you’re living up anywhere between Tollgate Road and Headline Road, that’s a long trek to any one of these.”

As for a north end location, Levesque said it wasn’t for a lack of trying but there were very few locations that weren’t schools and the only acceptable location was going to cost over $10,000. “It wasn’t feasible at all,” she said.

Asked about Blessed Sacrament Parish on Tollgate Road, Levesque said it didn’t meet the city’s accessibility standards.

Coun. Dean Hollingsworth tried to make a last minute attempt to spend the $10,000 to get the location but Levesque explained that the voting cards were already being printed Tuesday and the locations were published on the city’s website.

Advance voting will happen Oct. 6-8 and Oct. 11-13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the four locations.

There will be special advance voting Oct. 17-19 for seniors apartment buildings at select times and locations.

On election day, Oct. 24, the four locations will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. as well as on-site voting for part of the day at 14 long-term care and seniors homes.