Electronic Voting Machines in Nanaimo

Anyone who has voted in a Nanaimo municipal election or referendum will be familiar with Florida-style electronic voting machines. Unlike federal and provincial elections where paper ballots are counted by hand, at municipal elections the ballots are counted by machine. I served as a scrutineer during the last municipal election, and although the results spit out by the machine were properly recorded, I had no way of verifying that the machine was working accurately.

Unlike federal elections, municipal elections are not administered by an arms-length agency like Elections Canada but by the municipal authorities themselves. And although I’ve no reason to believe that cretins in a back room at Nanaimo City Hall are plotting to tamper with the results, the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars is at play in municipal politics and one can never rule out an attempt at vote rigging by someone someday.

Two recent videos on the use of electronic voting machines in Florida are posted below. I asked Ron Bolin, a candidate for Nanaimo City Council in next month’s municipal election, to comment on electronic voting and Ron sent me this:

Since, in the Nanaimo case, there is a paper record prepared by the voter, I do not have too much of a problem with the machines. What I do have a problem with is the use of the old guidelines for a recount which only required one when the count was close. Computers do not typically make small mistakes. I believe that it should be incumbent upon election officers to hold independent and publicly verifiable tests of the machines both immediately before and immediately after an election using sample data produced independently. In addition the recount call should be almost at whim. The recount is, after all, by machine - though if the difference is very small it could also be done by hand. Because machines are used instead of visual scrutiny by various parties, the rules around machine security and recounts need to be changed.

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