Voter privacy concerns paramount to democracy

Times-Herald Editorial Staff
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The voters who had their privacy violated during the municipal election have a right to be concerned.

Voter secrecy is paramount for all citizens in a democracy. That is the purpose of a secret ballot used in Canada. As defined by Elections Canada, a secret ballot means “no one except the voter knows the choice that was made.”

There have been many complaints from citizens about the electronic machine rejecting ballots because not all fields were marked. People have come forward saying that their choices were visible when the ballot was rejected. Another concern was being asked publicly if it was their intention to under vote or over vote.

As such, city clerk/solicitor Myron Gulka-Tiechko determined that in the 2016 election, the machine rejection setting would not be used. Yet the discussion surrounding election methods are still being discussed.

Coun. Brian Swanson was right to say these issues should not be pushed under the table when the city is near another election. If certain issues are not resolved, voter turnout will likely not increase and we will not see the type of positive change every city needs.

Robert Thomas came forward before council during Monday’s meeting to express his concerns. Councillors said they took his concerns seriously as they should have.

Coun. Don Mitchell brought forward a notice of a motion to make it mandatory for candidates to disclose campaign expenses and to have a range for allowable expenses as recommended by Thomas at the meeting.

Electronic voting certainly has its advantages as noted by Gulka-Tiechko, such as speed and efficiency with the intention of reducing the number of spoiled ballots. However, the moment voter privacy is infringed upon, even if the methods increase efficiency, something needs to be done. The city recognized this and did something about it.

The city took a few steps in the right direction to making sure voters still have their fundamental right to the secret ballot. There is more work to do, however, to make the voting system in Moose Jaw as easy as possible for the most number of people while maintaining voter privacy.

All Times-Herald editorials are written by the editorial staff.

Organizations: Elections Canada

Geographic location: Canada, Moose Jaw

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