Incumbent mayor Brian Bigger seemed to be blaming city staff for the fiasco that was the municipal election in a statement last night.
Watch Bigger's statement and Q&A here.
Intermittent problems — what officials are calling slowdowns in service and what voters are calling crashes — occurred early in the day on Monday, seemed to resolve themselves, and then became widespread around dinner time.
By 7 p.m., it was learned that electronic voting in dozens of municipalities across Ontario had stalled completely and the voting software, provided by Dominion Systems, wasn’t functioning.
A statement from city clerk Eric Labelle suggested the high volume of voters casting ballots was more than the company’s servers could handle.
The system came back online about an hour later, and many municipalities simply extended the voting period by an hour to 9 p.m.
On social media, and in messages to Sudbury.com, many voters said they simply left polling stations in frustration without casting a ballot as problems persisted between dinner-time and when the servers went down around 7 p.m.
By extending the voting period for another day, the city — in a hastily-called press conference at Tom Davies Square with CAO Ed Archer and city clerk Eric Labelle — said it was giving voters ample time to cast a ballot.
This explanation didn’t sit well with Bigger. In a press conference at his campaign headquarters, a member of the incumbent’s campaign team, Todd Robson, read a statement from the mayor while Bigger stood off to the side watching him deliver the message. The mayor then took a few questions from reporters, reiterating the content of the statement that had just been delivered.
Bigger said he was “disgusted” by “tonight’s failure in the election process.”
“I am extremely disappointed in how tonight’s election failed the voters of Greater Sudbury,” the statement reads. “As a candidate and the leader of this city, I am demanding an explanation by City of Greater Sudbury senior staff who put this process in place and why there was no back up plan in place.”
Further, Bigger demanded an investigation and said those responsible would be held accountable.
“Tonight, I am demanding accountability from those responsible and want to ensure every voter who wants to vote in this election can,” he said. “Sudbury voters were let down tonight. I am demanding a thorough investigation, analysis of what went wrong and those responsible will be held accountable.”
What Bigger meant by “those responsible” was not made clear at the press conference. The failure of the voting system, as stated by the city clerk, had to do with Dominion System’s servers being unable to cope with the load.
Sudbury.com will be trying to clear that question up today. The “failure” the mayor was referring to could be the lack of a back-up plan, but he didn’t provide any clarity when speaking with reporters.
“There will be consequences for those who made poor choices that impeded the process in our city,” the statement reads.
Again, what Bigger meant by “poor choices” is also unclear.
Sudbury.com will be back for Election Night Part Two this evening, starting around 7:30 p.m.
The mayor’s full statement is below.
Statement on behalf of Mayor Brian Bigger
There is no other word than ‘disgusted’ to describe tonight’s failure in the election process.
I am extremely disappointed in how tonight’s election failed the voters of Greater Sudbury. As a candidate and the leader of this City I am demanding an explanation by City of Greater Sudbury senior staff who put this process in place and why there was no back up plan in place.
Tonight, I am demanding accountability from those responsible and want to ensure every voter who wants to vote in this election can. Sudbury voters were let down tonight. I am demanding a thorough investigation, analysis of what went wrong and those responsible will be held accountable.
There will be consequences for those who made poor choices that impeded the process in our City.
And, I am happy that everyone who wants to vote will have the chance by extending the hours to 8pm tomorrow night. But let me reassure everyone that there will be accountability for this colossal failure.