When it comes to elections, inclusivity isn’t an option, it’s a requirement.
So, kudos to Penticton city council for looking at some of the concerns brought up about the last municipal election and taking action.
It means a budget increase of $25,000 for the next election, but having a second polling station and another advance polling day makes voting more accessible for more people.
Add to that a plan to add seating for people physically unable to stand up for a long queue and parking attendants to supervise outside the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, and a lot of complaints brought up about the 2014 voting day are addressed.
But at the same time, council started discussing measures to satisfy a small number of people who think electronic vote counting machines used by the City of Penticton are a slight against democracy.
Reviewing security procedures to ensure their is no chance of tampering makes sense. But going back to the 20th century and doing manual counts of votes, even if it is just to compare against the machine for verification, is not something city council should even be considering.
It’s very likely the counts wouldn’t match. Not because the machine count is inaccurate, but because humans are far more likely to make errors.
Then there is the considerable cost and time it takes to do a manual count. Where would you prefer the city spend taxpayer dollars on making voting more accessible, or bowing down to the demands of a misinformed minority some of which believe Penticton’s voting machines, which are not networked, can still be hacked from outside?
There is a famous quote from speculative fiction author Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
The solution, though, is education. People need to know this isn’t some mysterious process, where there vote can be cancelled by a magic spell cast from afar.
Penticton has used electronic vote counters since 2002. They’ve stood the test of time.