Vote counting issues not a concern in Trail

Election Info: City of Trail. New Brunswick election marred by electronic vote counting problems

What temporarily skewered New Brunswick’s provincial election results on Monday shouldn’t happen in Trail in November’s municipal election, according to the city’s corporate administrator.

The Maritime province encountered some technological setbacks while counting votes from its automated voting machines after the polls closed on Monday.

While counting votes from remote polling stations, election officials found some of the data on memory cards was unreadable, halting vote counts in the close race between the Liberals and the Conservatives.

While the problem has seemingly been cleared up for voters in the New Brunswick, it begs the question – what if something similar happened in Trail’s upcoming municipal elections?

Michelle McIsaac, corporate administrator for the City of Trail, assures that the city is not in any danger of encountering the same issue while counting votes in November.

“There really is no comparison between Trail’s municipal election and a very complex provincial election,” she said in an email reply on Tuesday.

“From what I’ve read, the ‘glitch’ may have had to do with the uploading of data from memory cards. In Trail, we have a very simple election set-up with a centralized polling station and no remote locations where results need to be uploaded/transmitted from.”

The voting system currently in use by the city has been tried and tested on three separate occasions with no major problems hindering vote counting.

“We’ve used the automated voting system for the general local elections in 2008 and 2011, and for the recent (bridge) referendum,” said McIsaac, adding that the first time the machines were in use, they were tested against a manual count.

“In 2008, when we used the automated voting machines for the first time, we did some additional testing on a subset of the ballots to compare the electronic count with a manual count. There was 100 per cent agreement between the results.”

The voting machines used by the City of Trail are the Diebold Accuvote machines, supplied by Election Systems and Software.

Although who will be on the ballot in Trail’s November election remain to be seen, official nominations start rolling in on Sept. 30.

McIsaac assures residents and future voters that the machines are tested before voting stations are opened to the public.

“Prior to each use, we perform testing of the machines’ optical scanners and the memory cards, using the ballots prepared for the election or referendum,” she said.

New Brunswick voters had to wait a few extra hours to get official results in their election, but it seems voters in Trail won’t be waiting any longer than normal to see who will be the city’s next mayor.