City sticking to its machines – Penticton Castanet News

City sticking to its machines

The City of Penticton will be using machines again to count votes in this fall’s municipal election, dashing the hopes for a small vocal group of residents that have been demanding votes be manually tallied.

City council voted Tuesday to approve four bylaws outlining how October’s election will be run. One of them outlines the use of vote tabulation machines that have been used in Penticton since 1999 and are commonplace across B.C.

The city’s chief electoral officer Laurie Darcus said they were strongly advised by Elections BC against manually counting ballots, unless it is by judicial review. The cost of a manual recount is estimated at up to $6,500.

She said the vote counting machines to be used again this October simply count marks on paper ballots and are not hooked up to the internet, adding the city would be holding an open test to display the accuracy of the machines prior to the election.

During question period, Darcus repeated her explanation of how the vote counting machines work several times to a few unsatisfied residents.

“What’s wrong with the good old days, when we did it all by hand?” asked Penticton Herald managing editor James Miller, speaking as a private citizen.

Miller suggested that nobody challenged the results of the 2015 federal election locally because the ballots were counted by hand. He added that large banks have been hacked, and asked if the vote counting machines used in Penticton could be tampered with by a “less than reputable individual.”

“These are not computers. They are vote tabulating units, so they don’t have any systems to hack into,” explained Darcus. “These are simply counting marks on a card — it’s almost like an adding machine, an old, old adding machine.”

Local activist Kevin Proteau also questioned council on the security of the vote counting machines, demanding a manual count. Proteau mounted a similar challenge of the use of the machines in 2014.

“To manually go through 10,000, there is probably more errors going through a manual count then you will ever get with an electronic count,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit at the end of a lengthy exchange.

October’s election will include three advance polls and a second polling station on general voting day to alleviate wait times. Council also adopted changes to its political signage bylaws, limiting signs to 13 spots on public property around the city.

 

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Keep pressing for manual recount in Penticton – Meeting at 1pm Tuesday June 5, 2018

Keep pressing for manual recount

Dear editor:

Last spring, Helen Trevors and James Miller and I had a meeting with the new director of corporate services at City Hall about the mechanics of the next civic election.

Amongst the issues discussed at this meeting were:

The city advertising for scrutineers and allowing candidates to pick from a vetted list; training scrutineers in an evening session so they know what their responsibilities are and exactly what they can and cannot do, rather than them undertaking this position with no knowledge of what their duties; rights and responsibilities to the candidates.

Two polling stations plus advance polling days; the City providing chairs, eliminating the need of voters to stand in lineups waiting to vote; sufficient staff hired to eliminate line ups (voting should not be an endurance contest for seniors or the disabled); giving out numbers so when voters are waiting they won’t lose their place in the lineup just because they sit.

Mail-in ballots for voters in the residential community care and retirement homes that will allow the mobility challenged to participate in the election; their right to vote was denied in the last civic election as no provision was made to enable them to vote.

Also and most importantly a manual recount was requested after the election in addition to the machine count. This would allay any citizen fears that their vote wasn’t counted or the fears of some that these machines could be tampered with or that the election results were tampered with in any way.

While most of the above is at the discretion of the director of corporate services, providing it falls within the Community Charter and can be provided for within the budget, the manual count is a financial issue requiring the assent of council.

A preliminary count by machine could be released the night of the election followed by a manual count after the election, which would cost $4,500 to $6,500 – a minimal cost to protect voters.

Council will hear the presentation from the director of corporate services on Tuesday, June 5 at the afternoon session. We need your physical presence and support to ensure that council understands that the voters in Penticton consider this issue important and that it merits their attention.

Elvena Slump

Penticton

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