Waterloo Region Votes

Information About the 2022 Municipal Election

Information for Voters

Overview

What is this all about?

On October 24nd, 2022, are the Ontario municipal elections, including here in Waterloo Region. Representatives for three areas of government will be elected:

  • Regional government (Regional Chair and Councillors)
  • Municipal governments (Mayors and Ward Councillors)
  • School boards (Trustees)

There is an easy to understand voter’s guide for the Ontario municipal election published by the province: 2022 Voters’ Guide.

There is an easier to understand summary published by settlement.org.

Why should I vote in municipal elections?

Your municipal government is responsible for many of the services that directly impact your daily life. We’ve put together a separate page with information to explain the roles and responsibilities of the different positions. Becoming engaged with municipal government is your choice - do you want to have input into who’s making decisions about how your city functions?

The Region of Waterloo has also created a series of videos in which local voters explain their reasons to vote.

I thought we just had an election?

On June 2 2022 Ontario had a provincial election. This is a municipal election. Both sets of elections are currently held every four years.

Voter Eligibility

Am I permitted to vote?

You may vote if you are a Canadian citizen who resides in Waterloo Region, owns property here, or has a spouse who owns property here. You must also be on the voter’s list.

There are some exceptions to these guidelines that may prohibit you from voting. There are also situations where you may vote in more than one municipal election.

For more details, see the Voter Eligibility section of the provincial voter guide.

How do I register to vote?

MPAC (the Municipal Property Assessment Association) maintains an online tool for checking your voter registration at https://www.voterlookup.ca . This is the place to start. If your information is correct you will probably receive a voter card in the mail.

If your information is not correct or you are not present on the site then life gets complicated. Different municipalities have different procedures for amending your information on the Voters’ List. See the Registering on the Voters’ List page for information specific to your municipality.

I voted provincially. Am I registered to vote?

Not necessarily. The provincial register of electors is distinct from the municipal one. The municipal List of Electors is managed by MPAC, the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC).

This will change in 2024. At that time Elections Ontario will maintain the voter list both municipally and provincially.

I am a student. Do I get to vote?

Yes. Depending on where your home address is, you may be eligible to vote twice! See the Ontario 2022 Voters’ Guide for more information.

I am homeless or have no fixed address. Do I get to vote?

Yes. Your voting address is considered to be the place where you ate or slept most frequently during the last five weeks.

About Voting

How do I vote? May I vote using the Internet?

This depends on the area municipality in which you live. Different municipalities have different procedures. For the 2022 election, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo has published a comprehensive guide. Below is a summary and links to official municipality information:

  • Cambridge: In-person voting Oct 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 24. Internet voting between Oct 7 to Oct 24.
  • Kitchener: In-person voting Oct 12-15 and 24.
  • North Dumfries: In-person voting Oct 19, 22, 24. Internet voting from Oct 11 to Oct 24.
  • Waterloo: In-person voting Oct 8, 11-16, and 24. You can vote by mail, but must pre-register to do so.
  • Wellesley: Internet and phone voting only from Oct 14 to Oct 24. There is no in-person voting.
  • Wilmot: In-person voting Oct 15, 16, 22, 23. There is no in-person voting Oct 24. Internet and phone voting from Oct 14 to Oct 24.
  • Woolwich: Internet, telephone, in-person voting. In-person on Oct 24 only. Internet and phone voting from Oct 14 to Oct 24.

Do I need a voter card to vote? Do I need identification?

If your area municipality allows voting in person then you do not need a voter card. If your area municipality allows only Internet and telephone voting then you will need a PIN, which is ordinarily mailed to you.

In general you need to bring identification with you in order to vote. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing publishes a list of acceptable documents for voter identification.

If you do not have identification you may still vote, but you must be registered on the voter’s list and you must sign a declaration of your identity. See the voters’ and identification section of the 2022 Voters’ Guide for more information.

Why are there four different school boards listed? Which do I vote for?

Everybody who is eligible to vote is assigned to a school board. By default this is the English public school board (WRDSB).

For more information, see our page containing information about school board elections.

There are a lot of positions to vote for! Do I have to vote for all of them?

No. You may refrain from voting for some positions if you wish; your vote will count for the positions you did vote for.

Similarly, if a position elects more than one representative (for example, there are four Kitchener Regional Council representatives) then you are not obligated to cast four votes for that position.

What are all the different positions for? What do these people do?

See our Municipal Government Overview for an explanation of the different positions and their responsibilities.

I thought Cambridge had a referendum on ranked ballots. What happened with that?

There was a minimum of 50% turnout in the election for the referendum to be binding, and only 27% of eligible Cambridge electors voted on the question. More people voted in favour than against, but it did not matter, because the provincial government banned ranked ballots with Bill 218 in 2020. See the Update on Ranked Ballot page on the Cambridge website for more details.

Getting Informed

What parties are running in this election?

Unlike provincial or federal politics, municipal candidates in our municipality do not run under party banners.

This has the advantage of potentially reducing partisanship, but it means that candidates must be evaluated on their individual merits.

I don’t feel informed enough to vote. Where do I start?

Start by finding your municipal ward on the ward map or by finding your ward in the list of wards. There you can find the candidates running for each position in your area, their websites, news articles about them, and events where they will be appearing.

Once you know your candidates, it is time to figure out who deserves your vote. Here are some strategies for becoming informed relatively quickly:

  • Attend all-candidates meetings for the races, or watch/listen to recordings of all-candidates meetings. This will cost you 2-4 hours per meeting, but is an effective way of comparing candidates against each other.

  • Visit candidate websites and/or social media presences. This can give you a sense of what candidates stand for and whether their views correspond to yours, but is not great for comparing candidates.

  • Read the answers to surveys posted by special interest groups. Reading responses from different (especially opposed) groups is a good way to assess how candidates respond differently to different audiences.

  • Read news coverage of candidates. Beware that some news coverage on social media feeds are written by advocates for particular candidates, and thus will be biased towards that candidate (and away from the competition).

There are also less effective strategies, such as voting for whatever candidate comes to your house and shakes your hand. Politicians know this strategy is effective, and they devote a lot of time to this, but other than identifying candidates who put time into door-knocking it does not give you much information about which candidates are best for their jobs.

I don’t feel informed enough to vote and there is not much time left. What do I do?

If you are stretched for time, you can follow one or two races and cast informed votes for those. The regional level of government is important, and many people do not pay sufficient attention to regional council candidates. Other influential positions are mayors and regional chair.

Spending an hour watching or listening to one all-candidates meeting can help you select the best candidates quickly.

Alternatively, you can follow one or two races by reading the campaign literature (in printed form or on the Internet) from the contenders, and choosing the candidates that match your views most closely.

How do I follow what is going on during the election?

Local media provides lots of election coverage. Here are a few hubs:

On Twitter you can track the #wrvotes and #wrpoli hashtags.

Getting More Involved

How high is voter turnout in municipal elections?

Voter turnout tends to be significantly lower than for provincial or federal elections. For the 2018 election, the Region of Waterloo published results indicating that overall turnout was 31%, ranging from a low of 29.7% in Cambridge to a high of 40.5% in Wilmot township.

In 2014, they ranged from a low of 29.3% in Wellesley township to a high of 40.6% in Wilmot township.

Voter turnout in provincial and federal elections tends to be much higher. Overall turnout for the 2021 federal election was 62%, and in the 2022 Ontario provincial election was 45%. These turnout numbers were much lower than previous federal and provincial elections, but still were much higher than municipal ones.

I want to organize an all-candidates meeting. What do I do?

If there are not enough all-candidates meetings for the positions that interest you (spoiler: there probably aren’t) then you can organize your own. This is not difficult, but does take some time and planning.

The City of Toronto had a guide to ward all-candidates meetings. This was written pre-pandemic, and contains some Toronto-specific information, but remains a good guide to the structure of an all-candidates meeting.

Some of the volunteers on this website also have experience in organizing all-candidates meetings, and would be happy to offer guidance. Contact us using the email at the bottom of this page.

Once you have started organizing your meeting, be sure to let us know about it so we can publish it on this website!

What other groups are working on election education?

Bob Jonkman posts a candidate listing on his poliblog site. We use his data in our candidate listings – thanks, Bob!

Melissa Bowman publishes a blog about urban issues and local politics at https://citified.substack.com/ . Although the blog is relatively even-handed the blog reflects Bowman’s own views.

The Region of Waterloo links to election information for the different municipalities at http://wrvotes.com .

A group called the Waterloo Region Women’s Municipal Campaign School held workshops on how to run for political office. Several election candidates during this election credit the campaign school for inspiring them to run for office. They have a Twitter account here: @wrwomenrun.

There is a related initiative called The Kitchen Cabinet which aims to support women, trans and non-binary candidates in the election.

For a Better Waterloo Region is largely an advocacy group for progressive causes, but did hold one information meeting for potential candidates.

I don’t trust your candidate listings. Where can I find the real ones?

Official candidate listing pages are listed on http://wrvotes.com . For convenience, here they are again: