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New elections technology headed to the polls

Nelson will be receive election results hours earlier on voting day thanks to new technology at the polls.
Mayor John Dooley and granddaughter Harlow show how to use the new electronic ballot counter.

Nelson will be receive election results hours earlier on voting day thanks to new technology at the polls.

The city is following along behind Castlegar and Trail with the use of electronic ballot counting machine.

"For us it's to be able to provide the results in a quicker more efficient manner to the public," said Frances Long, manager of legislative and administrative services. "It's a tough thing for the election workers to be working from 8 a.m. to approximately midnight counting those things."

When the machines were used in the last municipal election in Castlegar and Trail the counts were done 15 to 20 minutes after the polls closed.

On election day, voters will receive one ballot at the poll instead of three. The single sheet of paper will contain all the offices - for council, mayor and school trustee - on one ballot.

Once the voter has filled out the ballot as stated on the sheet they will feed it into the machine which will count the votes.

"We've tested it a number of times and we've tested it to a manual count and it came out exactly right. It came out with nicer information than what we've provided before," said Long.

In addition to the number of votes for each candidate, the machine also provides numbers on how many people under voted and how many people over voted.

"Another nice thing that will happen for us is during the day I know that in past elections election officials have been asked how many people have voted and they'd have to go to a sheet that's sort of tracking how many ballots have gone to each table and give an approximate, now we can come up to the machine it tells us how many ballots have been read through the machine," said Long.

In the event of a recount, Long said that in the past the electronic ballot counting machine has come up with the same results as a manual count.

"I know because somebody requested a judicial recount and the judge said no that they wouldn't do a recount because of the accuracy of the machine. In another instance they did do a manual recount and they came out exactly the same on both, so that was great," she said.

Long also said that the machine will save money because they won't have to pay election officials who traditionally worked until midnight.