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Voting Mechanisms

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1:08 pm
February 19, 2009


craig

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Post edited 7:01 pm – February 20, 2009 by craig



Voting Mechanisms

There are four mechanisms available for voting in an MNC election: secret ballot or polling stations, mail-in ballots, tele-voting and internet voting. Each of these mechanisms can be used as the sole mechanism, or can be combined to try and achieve greater voter turnout or increased participation from those in hard to reach areas. There are both pros and cons regarding each of the voting mechanisms. Each of the mechanisms is identified here with additional information and description of the option:


Secret Ballot (Polling Stations)

The secret ballot is a voting method in which a voter’s choices are confidential. The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery. This system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy and is suitable for many different electoral systems.

The most basic form of a secret ballot may be blank pieces of paper, upon which each voter writes only their choice. Without revealing their vote to anyone, the voters place the ballots into a sealed box, which is emptied later for counting. One of the most common forms of this provides for pre-printed ballot papers with the name of the candidates or questions and respective checkboxes. Provisions are made at the polling station for the voter to record their preferences in secret. The ballots are specifically designed to eliminate bias and to prevent anyone from linking voter to ballot.


Mail-in Ballot (Absentee Ballot)

A mail-in or absentee ballot is a vote cast by someone who is unable or unwilling to attend the official polling station. Numerous methods have been devised to facilitate this. Increasing the ease of access to absentee ballots is seen by many as one way to improve voter turnout. In a postal vote, the ballot papers are posted out to the voter – usually only on request – who must then fill them out and return them, often with some form of certification by a witness and their signature to prove their identity. 

This method could be quite useful for members of the Metis Nation who live in remote or rural areas, have limited access to transportation, mobility limitations or are unable to get out on Election Day. However, this method adds additional cost to the electoral procedure and there are some concerns with individuals voting twice, the security or secrecy of ballots, and the additional time it takes to collect and count the votes. Some of these concerns could be dismissed if a barcode or unique identifier was used to determine the individual voter (rather than a name) and to count only the first vote if a person has in fact voted more than once.

Tele-voting

Televoting is a typically a method of opinion polling usually conducted by telephone, which incorporates democratic principles. This method is usually initiated by random sampling of a population by means of random digit dialing, but can be used as a way of voting in an election for a candidate when a person calls in to a polling station number. In some ways Televoting is a more cost-effective method of voting than some alternatives because it does not require the voters to travel to vote in person, or to print, distribute and provide postage for mail-in ballots. However, televoting may be less effective than other methods because it requires the commitment or buy-in of voters to remember or take the time to call in their vote. The issue of secrecy and security may also be of concern as the process cannot determine the identity of a voter or if there is only one vote cast by each member.


Internet or Electronic Voting

Electronic, Internet or e-Voting is a term encompassing several different types of voting, embracing both electronic means of casting a vote and electronic means of counting votes. Electronic voting technology can include punch cards, optical scan voting systems and specialized voting kiosks or can also involve transmission of ballts and votes via telephones, private computer networks or the Internet.

Electronic voting technology can speed the counting of ballots and can provide improved accessibility for disabled voters. While Internet voting as a voting mechanism has gained in popularity in recent years, it remains a very costly voting method and is not as accessible to those living in areas without DSL or bandwidth techonology infrastructure (such as remote, rural and northern regions), or those in lower income groups who do not have access to a computer or thie internet. It also relies on a fairly high degree of computer literacy and the navigation of websites or pages to submit a ballot. Finally, there has been contention that electronic voting could facilitate electoral fraud and security issues.


Discussion:

What type (or types) of voting methods would you like to see for the election of an MNC President?

Do you have any concerns with these options? 

Is there any option that you would NOT like to be part of the MNC voting system?


Weighted Vote Methods

The MNC has a governance system that applies a weighted vote system at the executive level. In determining a new elections system there needs to be consideration given to whether the president of the MNC will be elected based on ‘one member one vote’, or a regionally-based voting system that weights votes based on region, so that votes from the founding member – Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta – are given the equivalent of three votes, and votes from members in Ontario and British Columbia are equivalent to one vote. While weighted voting may be more complex, it is common enough that voting mechanisms can accommodate a weighted vote method.

Discussion:

Do you think the election of the MNC President should be based on a weighted vote method?

What questions or concerns might you have for either a weighted or ‘one member one vote’ vote?


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