The new online voting system for the Law Society of Upper Canada bencher election virtually eliminated the old problem of late-arriving votes, says Treasurer Laurie Pawlitza.
Lawyers could still use the traditional paper ballot in this year’s election, but had to request a paper package in order to avoid the online vote this year.
Pawlitza told Convocation today that just 403 out of 15,592 votes were cast by paper, or about 2.6 per cent of the total. That’s even less than the number who tried to vote by paper in 2007, but missed the deadline because they misjudged the post. In the last election, 507 paper ballots arrived at the law society after voting had closed, and couldn’t be counted. It’s now impossible to vote late online, although 79 who rely on Canada Post still managed to miss the deadline in 2011.
The number of members who voted in this year’s election was still fairly low even though the law society seemed to arrest a declining trend in voter turnout. The rate has been on the plunge since 1987, decreasing at every election until this year. The 1987 peak was 56 per cent, but by 2007 that had fallen to 34.5 per cent. In 2011, 15,592 lawyers cast ballots for a turnout of 37 per cent.
Pawlitza announced she will form a working group to take a closer look at the election process and any improvements that can be made.
“I’ve written to all the candidates thanking them for running in the election and inviting any comments they might have on the process, and those comments are already coming in,” she said.
The law society welcomed 16 new benchers to Convocation for the first time this morning. They are an eager lot.
“I arrived this morning at my usual hour and I wasn’t able to get a chair at the table, so I would observe that this new Convocation is highly competitive,” said Thomas Conway, chairman of the professional development and competence committee.
Also, last night the law society held its annual awards ceremony at Osgoode Hall. The 2011 Law Society Medal recipients are Cynthia Petersen (Toronto), Roderic Graham Ferguson (Midland), Ronald G. Slaght, (Toronto), David Nahwegahbow, (Whitefish River First Nation), Alfred Mamo (London), and Carol A. Shamess (Sault Ste. Marie).
Hamilton’s Stanley M. Tick, was awarded the Lincoln Alexander Award in recognition of his dedication to the people of Ontario and the legal community. Fay K. Brunning of Ottawa recieved the Laura Legge Award, presented to a woman lawyer in Ontario who has exemplified leadership within the profession.