Babel backs a ballot bollix.

A year ago, there was an interesting meeting with the City Clerk in Babel. A very charming and knowledgeable person, she was generous with her time and interested in the subject of the meeting. It was about the voting system used for Babel municipal elections. It was suggested to the Clerk that Babel had some citizens knowledgeable of ballots and computers who could lend some free expertise to help move Babel towards a more modern, efficient, accessible and secure municipal voting system. She was not interested in the offer.

This subject is being revisited because of a news article recently about the report to the Ontario Legislature by Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer on Alternative Voting Technologies. The 271-page report is similar to what we were offering the city for free. The City Clerk should read it.

Greg Essensa, Ontario’s chief electoral officer wants more citizens to vote. He thinks only 50 per cent turnout for provincial elections is bad for democracy. How about a turnout of closer to 30 per cent in municipal elections? That is the real disgrace.

What was most worrying in the last municipal election in Babel was that in the wards where we were getting a high turnout of voters, we were getting impossibly long line-ups to vote. If more than 50 per cent of those eligible had tried to vote, thousands would have been denied their franchise.

Some of the things noted over many years of helping people vote are that people like ease of access to familiar voting locations and simplicity in voting. Nobody gets that in Babel. The polling places are always being moved, the system is cumbersome and very slow and the civic employees given the job of helping voters appear poorly trained.

To say that Babel’s voting system is computerized is a joke. It is an extremely cumbersome system that only uses a computer at the end to compile the votes. It is also very slow to load the votes into the computer. The real surprise is that the Babel system is more vulnerable to voting fraud than the old-fashioned paper ballots.

There is no question that we have to be extra vigilant as we move toward Internet and telephone voting. The key is in having people involved who have a stake in the reliability of the systems we use.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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