By Stan Ashbee
During a regular Town of Taber council meeting held Mar. 22, a Request for Decision was presented in regards to information submitted about proposed automated voting systems.
This item was requested to be brought back for council’s further consideration.
At a Feb. 22 council meeting, administration requested council’s consideration of approval of Proposed Bylaw 6-2021 in order that the municipality may use an automated voting system for electronic vote tabulators for municipal elections. The motion presented was defeated, at that time.
According to a report submitted to council for consideration, the cost of the tabulators have been factored into the council-approved budget, as well as offset with negotiated rates to undertake school board elections. It was also noted, use of the tabulators will reduce the number of paid staff required at the time of ballot counting.
“From a health and safety perspective, especially during COVID times, utilizing the tabulators would reduce the need to touch shared surfaces and documents of between 2,000 to 2,500 electors and staff.
Employing the use of an automated voting system will provide a timely and efficient means of counting votes for the upcoming Municipal Election and is in-line with many Alberta municipalities who have moved forward with this practice. There are upwards of 29 municipalities that currently use the tabulators, some for over 10 years,” it was stated in the report.
Coun. Louie Tams said he was in favour of the electronic vote tabulators being used in the upcoming Municipal Election previously, but the councillor did ask administration how many tabulators would be purchased.
Kerry Van Ham from Administrative Services said administration originally had thought of three. “But when we looked at the layout of the Community Centre, we did a walk-through, we’re thinking potentially four — just for the flow.”
“We’re not purchasing them, we are renting them, so they were around $8,500 for three tabulators. I would anticipate another $1,500 to $1,700 for an additional fourth tabulator if we go that route,” Van Ham added.
“So, we’re talking $10,000 for one election?” asked Coun. Tams, as Van Ham said, “yes,” as the technology changes so much, “there’s no point in owning them.”
Coun. Tams then asked Van Ham if the town could get away with three tabulators.
Van Ham said, “Yes, we can get away with three.”
Coun. Tams made the motion that council accepts the information and directs administration to have three tabulators for the next election. The motion was carried unanimously.
Council also passed the motion unanimously to accept first, second, third and final readings of Bylaw 10-2021, which is in response to the aforementioned discussion.