There will be no need to take shoes off to get the election ballot count right on Saturday in the 2011 Trail municipal election. The city owns two electronic ballot counting machines — one shown here by Michelle McIsaac

There will be no need to take shoes off to get the election ballot count right on Saturday in the 2011 Trail municipal election. The city owns two electronic ballot counting machines — one shown here by Michelle McIsaac

Technology allows for accurate tally

The 2011 municipal election will be the most accurate and convenient vote ever held in Trail.

The 2011 municipal election will be the most accurate and convenient vote ever held in Trail, and initial indications are it could be a record turnout.

With three days left before general election day on Saturday, advance polling is revealing “fairly” good turnout, said the City’s chief elections officer, Michelle McIsaac.

Although she was reluctant to interpret why there was a rise in advance voters, she did say people have indicated they liked the convenience of the Aquatic and Leisure Centre’s multi-purpose room — no stairs, plenty of parking — and the electronic ballot counting machine.

Now in its second election use in Trail, the two machines debuted in the 2008 election in the West Kootenay communities of Trail and Castlegar, with Nelson coming online for the 2011 election.

With today heralding the second opportunity for advance polling (8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the centre), McIsaac said more people are embracing the electronic ballot counting.

“It’s a fantastic system,” she said. “It provides a convenience for the elector when they are casting their vote, but it also provides the election officials at the close of voting with a quick and accurate count of results.”

And it is accurate. With the previous manual counting system a ballot could not be deemed spoiled until counting began — well after the voters had gone home — and the ballot could be physically examined.

That meant the vote was spoiled and there was no way for election staff to determine what the intent of the voter was, said McIsaac, and that vote would not count.

Now the electronic counter immediately scans the ballot, determining if it is spoiled —voting for more than the allotted number of candidates — and alerts the election staff of the situation if it is.

“So we can provide the elector right then and there a new opportunity to receive a new ballot and then their vote is counted,” she said.

On election day voters will again receive only one ballot, with the candidates for mayor, councilor and school trustee on the sheet instead of on three. Results of the municipal election should be available within 20 minutes of the polls closing on Saturday.

Meanwhile, today marks the final day for many voters to cast their ballots before election day.

After the 2005 election the provincial government changed legislation that restricted who could vote on an advance polling day — those unavailable or out of town on election day, or something that prevented them from voting on general election day — to make anyone eligible on advance polling days.

Despite that message being delivered through an extensive advertising campaign, the first election under those rules in 2008 did not see a corresponding rise in advance polling.

McIsaac said people had not really absorbed the idea that anyone eligible to vote could do so on an advance polling day.

“(This year) people are becoming more aware that they can come out on advance voting days … and see if it is more convenient,” she said. “This (change) will get more people out to vote.”

Advance polling primer

• Trail voters can cast their advance ballots from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre today or opt to vote during the same time on general voting day, Nov. 19, at the Trail Memorial Centre.

• Montrose residents can head to the village office Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 8p.m., Nov. 17 and Nov 18 during regular office hours, or wait until Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to take part in the election.

• Fruitvale will host its early election today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the village office or during the same time Nov. 19 at the Fruitvale Memorial Centre.

•  Area A residents can cast their ballot at the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary building in Trail today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or head to the Montrose office or Fruitvale Memorial Centre on general voting day.

• Though Area B director Linda Worley has been acclaimed, residents of Casino, Genelle, Rivervale, Oasis, Patterson, Black Jack, South Belt and Sheep Creek will be casting a vote for a referendum on library services.

Voters will be asked if they support increasing the annual $270,000 requisition to $355,000 in order to provide $85,000 toward the Trail and District Public Library.

Area B residents can share their opinion in advance polls today at the RDKB building from 8 a.m. to 8p.m. or on Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at halls in Rossland, Casino, Oasis and Genelle.

• Rossland can go to advance polls today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Rossland City Hall or cast their vote Nov. 19 from 8.am. to 8 p.m. at the Annex.