For the first time, votes in Kimberley’s upcoming municipal election will be counted by automated voting machine.
It’s a change from tradition, as there used to be four separate ballots for mayor, council, school district trustee and referendums, as in the 2011 electoral cycle. Once ballots were marked, they were deposited into separate boxes and hand-counted.
The new system will involve a single paper ballot, but a machine will take the ballots and deposit them directly into a sealed ballot box, recording all the results on a memory card.
Preliminary results should be available within an hour or two of polls closing.
These are the same type of machines that were recently used in the Toronto municipal election, according to Chief Election Officer Kelly Harms The same type of machines will be used in Cranbrook’s election and in roughly 45 other municipalities across B.C.
For the advance polling, the memory cards will track the results and be kept under strict lock and key by Harms. Fears of tampering are overblown, according to Harms, considering any meddler would have to have access to the machine, to the memory cards and to the ballots themselves.
So here’s what the voting process will look like at the general election on Saturday, Nov. 15 at Centennial Hall in Kimberley.
Voters will be given a paper ballot to fill out.
After marking their preferred candidates for one (1) mayor and up to six (6) councillors, the ballot is then fed into the machine, which will store the results on the internal memory card.
On the ballot, each candidate will have a blank oval next to their name, which must be coloured in by black pen provided to make the selection.
Once the ballot is filled out, voters can turn it upside down to preserve the secrecy of their selections, and feed it directly into the machine.
The machine will catch the ballot and draw it into the ballot box, which will be sealed.
As the machine draws in the ballot, it will acknowledge on a screen that it is accepting one, and will keep a running tally of the number of ballots received .
So what happens if people over-vote and select two mayors? Or vote for more than six (6) council candidates?
The machine will detect the over-vote and make a small beep to alert the Election Official and the voter. The voter will have the option to proceed with casting their ballot as marked, or having it returned to them to be spoiled and seeing the Presiding Election Official to receive a replacement ballot.
The voter can go back, get another ballot and redo their selections and resubmit their new ballot into the machine. If a voter does not wish to redo another ballot the machine will be required to take the ballot and count the races that are not over-voted.
If a voter makes one selection for mayor, but over-votes for the council selection and, for example, marks more than six (6), the mayoral selection will still be counted.
Again, the machine will note the over-voting council selections, and give the option of returning the ballot back to correct the over-voting from the council column.
Or, if the voter so chooses, they can force the machine to accept their ballot, as the mayoral selection will count, but their council choices will be considered spoiled.
The machine itself will be watched by Election Officials who have taken a solemn oath to preserve the secrecy of the ballot, so if anyone needs any help with the process, or has any questions about the machine accepting or rejecting their ballot, it will be available.
Kimberley residents who wish to see a demonstration of the automated voting machine can do so on Monday, November 3 at 4 p.m. at Kimberley City Hall. There will be another demonstration on Monday, November 10 at 6 p.m.