Votes could be counted electronically in Fernie in 2022 after city councillors approved the use of automated vote counting machines ahead of the October 15 election.
The move to ‘modernize’ the process was upon the request of the city’s Director of Corporate Administration, Jeff McConnell, who wrote in a staff report to council that voting machines would allow the process to be faster, with fewer staff required to manually count ballots as it had been done in years past.
“In 2018 the estimated eligible voter turnout for the City of Fernie was 64.2 percent, 28.6 percent higher than the average BC municipal turnout of 35.6 percent,” he wrote in the report.
“The use of automated voting machines will reduce the number of employees required to work on election day and the number of hours required to count ballots at the end of election day. Automated voting machines will be able to tally all votes within an hour of polls closing.”
Councillors voted unanimously to support the adoption of a new bylaw which would permit the use of automated vote counting machines at the June 13 regular council meeting.
Councillor questions were on cost (which will be well within the $20,000 municipal budget for the election) and whether there was a backup battery for the vote-counting machines.
Voters will continue to mark a ballot in the election, with the ballots themselves to be counted by a machine.
Neighbouring Sparwood already uses automated vote counting machines, and used them in the 2018 election.
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