Our Meeting With The Chief Electoral Officer
This week the OLIP interns had the privilege of meeting Greg Essensa, Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer. We spoke about Ontario’s changing electoral base, participation trends from past elections, and his role as guarantor and advocate for Ontario’s free and fair elections.
As the province’s expert on our voter base, Mr. Essensa informed us that Ontario’s electorate of 10.7 million grows by roughly 150,000 each year. We reflected on changes in voter habits throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, noting a 735% increase in mail-in ballots in the 2022 election. We also learned that Elections Ontario can administer a number of special ballots, such as through house and hospital visits.
We were also invited to tour the warehouse where supplies and ballots from recent by-elections were held securely. While touring the warehouse, we considered the possibility of digitizing elements of the electoral process, touching on themes like privacy and identification which are integral to Ontario’s elections, and significant to Mr. Essensa.
The role of Chief Electoral Officer is a high-stakes position, but with fifteen years of experience in the role, Mr. Essensa carries it with pride. Mr. Essensa’s passion for the democratic process, demonstrated by his perseverance ensuring communities could exercise their right to vote during tough times such as fires and floods, was tangible and inspiring.
It was an honor to meet with someone who plays such a key role in our legislative process, and on behalf of OLIP, we thank Mr. Essensa for taking the time to meet with us!