Electronic counters deemed a “success” in Oct. 15 Iqaluit election
“Using electronic tabulation is obviously something that worked for us”
Counting has never really been Iqaluit’s strong suit.
The 2009 municipal election resulted in a miscount, and because of that, new tabulation machines were brought in for Iqaluit’s Oct. 15 election — something that turned out to be a success, said Iqaluit’s chief electoral officer, Kirt Ejesiak.
“I thought it went very well,” Ejesiak said two days after the election. “There was less stress than previous elections. The machine certainly was able to give us more focus on other small things like helping elders and people with disabilities, better than previous elections.”
The City of Iqaluit set aside up to $10,000 to bring three DS200 electronic scanner-tabulators to count ballots for the election, although only two were used at the Cadet Hall and the Abe Okpik Hall in Apex. One sat on the side as a backup.
The costs also included having a technician on hand, as well as training for election workers.
But for Ejesiak, the money spent was well worth the results.
“Yeah, I think it was money well spent to make sure the public knows the process was fair and transparent,” he said.
That’s despite a problem that prevented the ballots from being counted during the predicted 15-to-30-minute window after the polls closed.
Because a large number of people decided to vote at the same time on election day, many of the ballots cast didn’t get fed through the tabulators until after polls closed at 7 p.m.
“We found during the day, the machine was not as fast accepting the ballots. So we just had a backlog of people,” Ejesiak said. “I decided to avoid long lines and congestion. There’s a separate compartment in the ballot box where we manually fed the ballots to be counted later.”
“So of course, because of that, once the polls were closed, we had to [put] those ballots into the machine. And that took a bit longer than what we expected,” he said.
Despite that hiccup, Ejesiak said he will recommend giving the tabulators a second shot the next time around.
“I think using electronic tabulation is obviously something that worked for us and ill be recommending it in the future,” he said. “It would be a no-brainer.”
Next time, Ejesiak suggests bringing in a couple of extra machines to speed up the process.
But that’s something the new city council will have to decide in three years time.