The upcoming April 23 civic by-election in Estevan is going to feature an automated vote counting system.
Estevan City Council unanimously gave three readings at its April 7 meeting to use the Accu Vote automated vote counting system. The City of Regina is loaning the system to Estevan for free for the by-election.
"It has a 99.9 (per cent) accuracy rating that has been proven in the past three counts in the City of Regina," said Mayor Roy Ludwig.
Accu Vote will reduce the time needed to count ballots. In Estevan's most recent civic election in October of 2012, the final polling station didn't report until after midnight. Now, it's expected that results will be tabulated within an hour of the polls closing at 8 p.m.
"We're crossing our fingers that everything will go well," said Ludwig.
Ludwig said other communities in the province have moved to automated polling, and that Estevan City clerk Judy Pilloud backs the idea. The by-election is viewed as a great opportunity to test the concept.
"If it goes well, we'll be looking at putting moneys into the budget to purchase these machines, with the intention, hopefully, of having the Accu Vote at the next municipal election (in October of 2016)," said Ludwig.
The machines would cost $5,000 to $8,000 each, and Estevan would need five or six such units, Ludwig said.
But it should save some costs associated with elections and by-elections because election workers won't have to spend so much time tabulating the results.
The machines are tamper proof and virtually error proof, he said. But it is a complicated process.
"I wouldn't say that we'll need less people at these polling stations," Ludwig said. "When you vote at these, it's very labour-intensive, because there's a person who will help each individual vote."
The vote has to be conducted a certain way. But there are processes in place to ensure secrecy.
Pilloud has travelled to Regina for training on Accu Vote, and she will train by-election workers on how to use the system. A representative from the City of Regina will be in Estevan for the by-election to supervise the process.