Guelph City Council introduces electronic voting

System improves transparency by recording each member’s vote

Guelph City Council used an electronic voting system for the first time last night at its Council meeting. Under the system, members of Council vote in favour or against a motion by pressing the appropriate button, and the overhead screen displays how each individual voted. All votes other than procedural motions are recorded, and the meeting minutes show how each member voted.

Previously, votes were only recorded when requested by a member of Council. Non-recorded votes were taken by a show of hands and not listed in the minutes, so citizens would have to see the vote take place in order to determine how a member voted.

“This is a huge step forward in accountability and transparency,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge. “During meetings, it will be clear how each member has voted. And, if a citizen wants to know how any member of Council voted on any issue going forward, he or she can simply consult the minutes, which are posted online.”

Unlike the previous system for recorded votes, where the Clerk would call each member’s name and manually record his or her vote, the electronic system will enable members of Council to vote simultaneously. The system also eliminates the potential to mis-hear voice votes or mis-count hands. All votes are automatically stored on a data server.

All votes will be recorded, with the exception of procedural motions, which are motions that facilitate the conduct of the business of the meeting and are identified on the agenda. This would include, for example, motions to move into committee of the whole and reading of the bylaws.

The electronic voting system is part of the existing sound system in Council Chambers, which the City purchased in 2005 to replace a failing sound system.