Liberal nominations go digital

By Sabrina Nanji August 21, 2020

The Grits are taking nomination contests digital amid Covid, Queen’s Park Today has learned. 
More than 100 ridings will be looked at to determine whether the vote for 2022 election candidates would be better suited online or in person. The number of card-carrying Liberals, geography and size of the riding, and other factors will be taken into account. 
“With a ban on public gatherings, and keeping the health and safety of our members in mind, we have been pushed to adapt to the challenge,” a party spokesperson confirmed to Queen’s Park Today. 
There are many other Covid-related variables at play in considering whether to hold a virtual vote, such as access to meeting locations and PPE. 
Intelivote Systems — an electronic voting service that has run civic elections across the country, as well as leadership contests for the PC Party, NDP and other provincial Liberal parties — will carry out the Ontario Liberal nomination races. 
Would-be Liberal supporters will have to verify their identification in one of multiple ways, such as a quick face-to-face on Zoom. They will then receive a unique PIN to log in to cast their virtual ballot. 
One Liberal insider with knowledge of the nomination process said application packages have been flying in to party headquarters, with about two years to go before the next scheduled vote. 
The party is also nominating 2022 candidates at lightning speed. Incumbents Michael CoteauJohn Fraser and Mitzie Hunter are already locked in for the next election, while ex-leadership candidate and new mom Kate Graham will be acclaimed Tuesday evening in London North Centre. Those nomination meetings have taken place online, but since they were not contested, the party didn’t need to use Intelivote. 
Because of the vast number of nominations the party must clear ahead of the 2022 general election, OLP has declared a state of electoral urgency, which allows Leader Steven Del Duca to appoint contestants of his choice, and change timelines and rules for nomination contests. (Previously a Liberal leader could only appoint up to five candidates.)
Del Duca has promised to have at least 50 per cent women on the ticket and 30 candidates under 30. Riding associations must also show that they’ve made “specific outreach efforts” to wannabe contestants from underrepresented communities, including BIPOC and LGBTQ.