Women in Toronto Politics (WiTOpoli) has developed a website to help make learning about the municipal election a 10 minute task, instead of a night of headaches.
The non-partisan organization’s site, Position Primer, begins by telling users what ward they live in based on their postal code. Next, it lists all candidates for that ward and their platform on 10 major topics including transportation, childcare, employment and public services.
“It’s a one-stop shop for voters to read the platforms and (decide their) vote,” said Ward 2 counsellor candidate Andray Anthony Domise.
In order to make a website that would be easy to read and accessible to all Torontonians, WiTOpoli worked with candidates to post contact information and official statements on all chosen topics to create a neutral checklist of potential counsellors.
“We wanted to create something that served as many voters as possible, so we came up with as wide a range of topics as possible,” said WiTOpoli media relations director Abby Plener.
Plener was part of the team that contacted and organized council candidates’ information to put on the website. Any candidate that still submits their information can be posted on the website.
“If you’re not participating, you’re not concerned about the issues here,” Domise said. “We have to invest in our neighbourhoods and our students to ensure they are happy.”
The WiTOpoli website helps students with more than just choosing a candidate on election day.
Humber students could make good use of Position Primer if they’re new to Toronto. Students living on, and north of, Humber North residence can vote in Ward 1, while students South of the arboretum are considered Ward 2. Lakeshore campus is entirely within the boundaries of Ward 6.
“A lot of students don’t understand the process. They think they’re voting for [a mayor], but they’re also voting for a counsellor in their ward,” Melissa Gallo, director of peer programs at Humber, said.
Director of Student Life Programs at Humber, Corrina Fitzgerald agreed, saying that a website like this can make a huge difference when it comes to students feeling confident in casting their vote.
“[Students] are community members, too, and it’s important that they have a say of what happens in the community that they live in,” Fitzgerald said.
“Our mandate was to create a more inclusive discourse in ensuring it’s open to women and other equity seeking groups, like (those based on) gender, race, sexual orientation, disability level, etc.,” Plener said.
Any interested voters can access Position Primer, as long as they know their local postal code. WiTOpoli is also hosting debates and frequent live chats leading up to the election on Oct. 27.