City on route to automated voting

Council passed the first three readings of a bylaw that deals with automated voting machines on Feb. 3.

In preparation for the 2014 General Local Election and the modernization of voting systems, the city passed the first three readings of a bylaw that deals with automated voting machines on Feb. 3.

At the regular council meeting, Coun. Gerry Warner noted there are some  great features to the automated voting machines.

“One of the features of voting machines apparently, is if you start to spoil your ballot by mistake it tells you that,” Warner said. “And gives you another chance.”

Director of Corporate Services Roy Hales said in 2011, four per cent of the ballots were rejected at the time of counting.

“That amounted to 718 ballots,” Hales said. “So with this method we will hopefully reduce that down to zero.”

According to the report put together by city staff, automated voting machines have been used in B.C. for a number of years. The machines are currently used by over 70 municipalities, including Nelson, Trail and Castlegar. Some of those municipalities were contacted by city staff and their reviews were positive.

Scott said the budgetary impact is minimal. City staff noted in the report that the machine were estimated to cost between $12,000 and $14,000.

“The cost of the machines basically offsets the cost that we had to pay people to stay and count the ballots,” Scott said. “It will also be done faster and it’s supposed to be more accurate. Other cities have done it and it seems to work well, I think it behooves us to look into it.”

City staff said in the report that costs would be recovered through the reduction of election worker hours through elimination of the manual count, and through cost sharing opportunities with other East Kootenay municipalities if they decide on the same service provider.

Mayor Wayne Stetski and Coun. Denise Pallesen were absent from the meeting.

The Local Government Act states that a bylaw such as the one before council has to be adopted before a municipality can begin using automated voting machines during an election.