Latest News

Voting in the 21st century

cartoon_may252016Councillor Amy McQuaid-England wants to change the way councillors vote at the region.

Under the current system, councillors raise their hands during votes or, in the case of more contentious issues, stand individually and voice either their agreement or disagreement with a particular motion.

In a motion that narrowly passed through council chambers, staff will now investigate what it would take to turn on the electronic voting system already in place at regional headquarters. This way, rather than doing hand counts or going around the room for individual votes by voice, councillors can now press a button to indicate their vote.

Such a system has been in place for some time in Toronto, with results shown on a screen in council chambers to show who voted which way. Voting results are, therefore, easy to track and find for future needs.

It seems like a no brainer. Why not move ahead with the times and implement such a system? It really does seem like it would make things easier and remove the possible confusion surrounding the current system. Council and committee meetings in the past have seen hand votes that are very close, and requires whomever is in charge of the meeting to get people to revote and count the number of hands raised, which seems like a very cumbersome and time-wasting process.

Apparently, for some councillors, tradition weighs out. The old mantra of “this is how things have always been done, so why change it?” is a popular one among many councillors in Durham’s chambers, especially among those coming from Oshawa. In fact, Councillor John Neal was the lone Oshawa member to join McQuaid-England in supporting motion when it came to a vote.

It really begs the question as to why so many councillors are against a system that, potentially, could store the results of past votes for future uses. And after all, as McQuaid-England pointed out, the system is already installed in council chambers but was never turned on. What, really, is the harm in the turning the system on? After all, it would only help in improving the transparency at the region.