Council vote goes high tech

Electronic tabulation introduced at the Township council table

Mark Bakken

Mark Bakken

There are two new faces on Township council, and a new way to show how they and the rest of council, vote.

Traditionally, the mayor calls for a show of hands for those who support a motion, followed by a show of hands for those who vote against it, and then announced the result, naming only those councillors who were opposed.

On Dec. 12, the Township used electronic voting for the first time, and by the time council reconvenes this month, the kinks should be ironed out, administrator Mark Bakken said.

A major drawback for people in the gallery is that they can easily miss the mayor’s call on the results of the vote.

In January, the results will be displayed instantly on two video screens behind the council members. They will show a green check mark against the names of the councillors who vote in favour of a motion, and a red X by those who voted against a motion.

That way, Bakken said, voting cannot be misinterpreted.

Mayor Jack Froese will continue to call out the names of those who opposed a motion, and name a councillor who attends a meeting but is absent for a vote.

But a councillor who is present but abstains from the voting will not be recorded because abstentions are taken as votes in the affirmative, Bakken said.

Electronic voting also keeps track of voting patterns. In November, Councillor Charlie Fox’s examination found that  there was no truth to claims that certain members of council were part of the ‘six-pack’ that voted together during the term of former mayor Rick Green.

Figures showed that council voted unanimously 71 per cent of the time over the past three years.

The voting record showed that the mayor (Green) was more agreeable and more often than not in agreement with the majority, Fox had said.

Electronic voting also gives a quick snapshot of who does the work on council, and who shows initiative.

Bakken said that electronic voting is more widespread in the U.S., and is being adopted more frequently in Canada.

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