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article imageNorth American Elections Officials to Observe New Brunswick Municipal Election

By Bob Ewing     May 11, 2008 in Politics
Tomorrow is municipal election day across the province of New Brunswick; the election is drawing attention because the province will introduce technology that moves toward electronic voter lists.
Monday May 12 is municipal election day in New Brunswick. The last municipal elections were held on May 10, 2004. This year’s elections are drawing some attention of electoral officials in a number of cities across North America.
The interest is twofold. On Monday, the province will introduce technology that moves the process towards electronic voter lists.
"There has been a lot of interest in some of the new procedures we are using in this election," said Mike Quinn, the province's chief electoral officer. The traditional paper voter lists will be available as a backup.
"This gives us a streamlined voting process and the flexibility to offer ballot-on-demand at returning offices," Quinn said.
On election night 229 new tabulation machines will be used and after the ballots are inserted into the box, they will be scanned and counted.
"Instead of waiting for the traditional manual count, these machines will silently and secretly be counting ballots throughout the day as people vote," Quinn said.
This means that the results will be ready much sooner than in previous elections. The machines have been tested for their logic and accuracy and Elections New Brunswick is confident that the results will be accurate.
The new machines were introduced during the advance polls.
This system has intrigued elections agencies including Canada’s chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, and representatives from jurisdictions in the United States who are interested to see the technology in action.
Election officials are also interested in the steps that New Brunswick has taken to address accessibility for disabled voters.
"We've been hearing a lot about the different projects that Elections New Brunswick is piloting, which are aimed at removing barriers to voters," Richard Balasko, chief electoral officer for Manitoba said.
"Important improvements to electoral administration often result from observing the best practices of other jurisdictions."
Elections New Brunswick has new technology for visually impaired voters that provides an audio voting system.
People who have motor disabilities will be able to use a "sip and puff" that allows them to take a special tube into their mouths and select a candidate by blowing through it.
In several voting regions sign-language interpreters will be available.
Municipal election turnouts are frequently low and it is hoped that the increased flexibility of the system will increase the turnout.
More about Elections, Municipal, New brunswick
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