The next municipal election is four years away, but it was a topic of concern Monday night.
During Monday’s regular city council meeting at city hall, Robert Thomas publicly presented his concerns regarding the municipal election and the violation of voter secrecy. Council voted to receive and file his concerns.
“I fully realize there are some in the community who are going to say, ‘This is no big deal and the election’s over and done with,” said Thomas. “Personally, I beg to disagree. From the people I’ve spoken to in the city, I am very strongly convinced that there are lots of people not happy with the process at all.”
A large voter concern was the electronic voting machines that rejected ballots where the voters either under voted or over voted to avoid spoiled ballots. Thomas said his ballot was rejected because he didn’t vote for the maximum number of candidates in a certain section. After the election official confirmed that was his intention, his ballot was reinserted. He said when the ballot came back out, he could see who he’d voted for on the ballot.
“Within half an hour of having my voter secrecy violated, I began tweeting about it,” said Thomas. “I’ve personally spoken to other voters that are adamant that their privacy or that of the person in front of them was violated when ballots were rejected by the machines … We don’t need this to happen ever again.”
In city clerk/solicitor Myron Gulka-Tiechko’s report to council, Gulka-Tiechko said in the report that he has determined the electronic prompts will not be used in the 2016 elections.
“Although the number of spoiled ballots may increase as a result, the counterbalancing concerns of verifying a voter’s intention creates more concerns,” he said in the report. “In the final analysis, the responsibility for ensuring a ballot rests with each individual voter.”
Thomas also said he would like council to enact legislation to make it mandatory for all candidates to release the identity of all campaign contributors and dollar amount to make sure the campaigns are transparent and accountable.
Coun. Don Mitchell later brought forward a notice of motion to make it mandatory for candidates to disclose campaign expenses and to have a range for allowable expenses.
For more information, see an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.