Monday, November 10, 2014

Voting, as simple as filling out a lottery card!

When Prince Rupert voters arrive at the polling station during this years Municipal election, the process will be just a little different, as the City makes use of a vote tabulator, a project which the City believes will speed up the delivery of the vote totals on November 15th.

Those that have taken advantage of the Advance polls, have already had their chance to test drive the new system.

A process which uses ballots that to a fashion might resemble a lottery card, with the voter making their decision by filling out the bubble beside the candidates name.

Voters then take the ballot to the voter tabulator machine, which records your vote.  Those that may not feel comfortable with that process can hand their completed ballot to the clerk who will take care of the last stage of the voting for you, inserting the ballot into the machine for validation.

A short video of the process can be found below, featuring the machine being used by the City of Prince Rupert, the DS200. More background on that machine can be found here.

The move to the voting tabulation machines was introduced by Prince Rupert City Council  on July 7th, a topic which generated little in the way of discussion at the time.  The full review of the Voting Bylaw and introduction of the potential use of the vote tabulator process was outlined as part of the Agenda for the July 7th session, (scroll to the very end of the Agenda package)

Council subsequently approved the Voting Procedures Bylaw by way of a Special meeting on July 30th.

The City's corporate administrator Rory Mandryk outlined the process for Council at the July 7th Council session.  (his overview can be found from the Video Archive below, he outlines the process at the one hour, forty one minute mark)

This is the first year that the City has moved towards an electronic means of vote tabulation, though it should be pointed out these are not the same as the machines of recent years made famous in the American electoral process, some of which have proven to be a tad controversial.

Looking around the ES and S website, we perhaps get a short glimpse of what the future may hold for voting in the years to come.

One option that may one day boost the voter participation levels is the ballot on line Home Ballot Marking system, which would take the balloting to the home of the voter.

Another interesting concept for the voting process comes from the ExpressVote UVS system hybrid version that combine a touch screen process with printed ballots.

With vote percentage totals in the mid thirties for recent elections, finding ways to engage the voter and simplify the process might be the best way to secure more participation in the process in the future.

For this year however, while the new technology offers up the prospect of faster results and a streamlined process.

The key aspect of the whole exercise is that the ballots still require some form of marking and more important than anything else, the entire process requires participation.

Council recently discussed the need to engage they public more in the electoral process, looking at how they try to encourage voter participation in other Northwest communities.

For Prince Rupert the chance to boost those participation numbers comes up with the next Advance poll, which takes place on Wednesday, November 12th from 8 AM to 8 PM.

For other special polling information see our previous item on Advance polls from October 30th.

The General Election day for the Mayoralty, Council seats and positions for the School District 52 Board takes place on Saturday, November 15th at the Prince Rupert Civic Centre.

For more items related to the 2014 Municipal election campaign see our archive page here.

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