Voting system crashes in Woolwich, Wellesley, hours before polls close

Woolwich extends voting by another 24 hours

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The Township of Woolwich extended voting hours in the municipality by 24 hours after the exclusively internet-based vote system used by Woolwich and Wellesley suffered severe slowdowns, hours before polls were set to close, preventing voters from casting their ballots.

The new deadline for Woolwich residents to cast their votes has been moved 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 23. The Township of Wellesley, meanwhile, said they had extended voting by at least one hour, until 9 p.m. on Monday.

Woolwich staff are recommending those who couldn’t cast their vote Monday evening to try again the same night or the day after.

The system crash, which began around approximately 6 p.m. on Monday, just two hours before polls closed, caught municipal staff and candidates alike by surprise. Shortly after 7 p.m., the decision was made to extend voting in Woolwich by 24 hours; however, township clerk Val Hummel noted she wasn’t sure how the delay would affect the election for Regional Chair – which is voted on by the entire Waterloo Region.

“I haven’t even connected with the regional clerk yet, but my assumption is they will hold the results until they get ours. I don’t know. It’s too soon,” she said. “I’m only ten minutes into this decision, so I don’t know yet what they’re going to do. They have been notified.”

The problem was not just  unique to the townships, however, but reportedly affected multiple municipalities in Ontario relying on the same voting service, provided by Dominion Voting Systems. The Observer could not independently verify the extent of the problem.

Dominion Voting Systems could not immediately be reached for comment.

“From what I know the Dominion, who is our provider of this service, their service has been overloaded,” said Mayor Sandy Shantz. “It sounds like most of the municipalities who are affected are extending voting by a day, and we are extending voting until 8 p.m. tomorrow.”

The Township of Wellesley had similarly suffered slowdowns. A media release at 8 p.m., Monday, said the township had extended voting “until at least 9 p.m. [Monday]”.

“The Township of Wellesley has decided to extend the voting period until at least 9pm tonight,” said Wellesley Township in a statement. “The Township of Wellesley is working with Dominion to increase the capacity of the system, and additional resources have already been added. While some voters can still access the system to cast their votes.”