Rory Mandryk

Record number of advanced voters turn out in Prince Rupert as city introduces automated vote tabulator

Results of the municipal election will be released much sooner as new automated vote tabulators are being used in this year's election.

Results of the 2014 municipal election will be released much sooner than previously in Prince Rupert as new automated vote tabulators are being used in this year’s election.

Tanya Ostrom, the city’s chief elections officer, and Rory Mandryk, Prince Rupert’s corporate administrator, said the tabulators not only make the tallying process faster, they ensure accuracy by reducing the possibility of human error.

“Part of the reason for using it was not only to get automatic results, but it’s been very successful in other communities with regards to people spoiling their ballots by accident,” Ostrom said.

“If there’s a problem, ‘error’ comes up and it tells you what the problem is. It’s very user-friendly.”

Ostrom said a misconception about the new system is that voters must pick their choice candidates on a screen. However, like the former system, voters make their selection on a paper ballot which they then deposit into the automated vote tabulator.

The machine automatically tallies votes as ballots are fed in, which Mandryk said simplifies the process by eliminating the need for hand-counting.

For those who are uncomfortable with depositing their ballot into the machine, there is a manual slot into a separate section. These ballots will be fed through the machine by election officials.

There was a good response to the tabulators during advance voting on Nov. 5, with some of the most common comments being “that’s so cool” and “it’s so modern”.

The machines are being rented for $6,500, which Ostrom said is comparable to the costs of wages for election officers and ballot printing. The automated voting tabulators’ accuracy was tested prior to advance voting and was proven to be functioning properly.

There was a record amount of voters casting their ballots during the first advanced voting opportunity on Nov. 5, with 290 residents selecting their preferred candidates in the 2014 municipal election.

On Nov. 7, the second day of advance voting, an additional 240 ballots were cast. Ostrom said it was another record turn out, with a total of 530 voters casting their ballots in two days.

“We have already surpassed the four day total in the three previous elections,” Ostrom said.

The final advance voting opportunity is taking place on Nov. 12 at City Hall from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

There will also be an opportunity for advanced voting at both the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital and Acropolis Manor on Thursday, Nov. 13 for residents unable to make it to the civic centre on general voting day.

General voting will take place at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on Saturday, Nov. 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“If you voted in the last provincial election, chances are you’re going to be registered,” Ostrom said.

Residents who are not already registered to vote need to bring two pieces of ID, like a drivers license or B.C. ID, or a government issued letter or bill that proves your residency.

You must be a Canadian citizen over the age of 18, and not disqualified for voting, and a resident of Prince Rupert for at least 30 days.