2014 Municipal Election: Did Your Vote Count?

Header-image-Shalapata-2By Ian Shalapata

(WINDSOR, ON) – If you honestly consider yourself a supporter of democracy, then this is something you should be sharing on social media and talking about around the dinner table. If the truth matters to you, then you owe it to yourself and your family.

The future of Windsor depends upon it.

If you took the time to vote in the 2014 municipal election, and there is every indication that more people did than has been disclosed, then you received one of four different ballots based on your school support: English Public (EP), English Separate (ES), French Public (FP), or French Separate (FS).

The ES race in Wards 1 and 10 was acclaimed as were the races for FS city-wide. However, regardless of the acclimations, you would still have received the proper ballot according to your school support. The top of the ballot still allowed you to vote for the mayor and council candidates of your choice.

The names on the ballot were arranged alphabetically in all instances, and they didn’t change position. All types of ballots were the same. In other words, they were static.

The DS200 Vote Tabulators are very sophisticated and powerful processors. They can be programmed to deal with the most complicated electoral processes. The DS200 can, for instance, easily handle the processing of thousands of ballots with up to 99 rotating candidates on a single ballot.

The DS200 is capable to do almost anything a person would want it to do. This is the reason that, in the United States, there are very strict policies, procedures, laws, and required election audits whenever alternative voting methods are used.

In Windsor at least, it is hard enough just to get the required by-law passed to authorize the alternative voting methods.

In Ontario, our municipal elections are conducted in accordance with the Municipal Elections Act, however there is an inherent lack of proper oversight regarding pre- and post-election happenings.

Again in the United States, some jurisdictions require the positions candidates occupy on a ballot to be rotating. They have deemed that simply listing candidates in alphabetical order, as we do in Canada, is an unfair advantage for those hopefuls who would appear at the top of every ballot.

This programming is designed to give each candidate the fair chance of being at the top. There is statistical research that seems to demonstrate candidates at the top of the ballot get unearned votes based on electors randomly picking the first person listed.

To offset this apparent disadvantage, candidates would rotate to various locations on the ballot, requiring the voter to look for and find the candidate of their choice.

Home-Rotation-OrderIn October of 2014, the City of Windsor opted to program the DS200 Tabulators using the Home Rotation Order setting. This is the setting used in the United States but, according to Election Systems and Software (E S and S) in Omaha, NE, the suppliers of the DS200, “We don’t use Home Rotation in Canada.”

The Home Rotation Order  setting is used when candidates’ names appear in a rotating order.

The electronic voting machines in Windsor were apparently programmed with “Home Rotation Order” ballot setting for no obvious reason.

Using this setting would also require different versions of the ballot to be printed by the City and for those ballots to be similarly distributed amongst the various polling places within a ward. If the setting is used without the appropriate ballot versions then possibly a serious error can have major ramifications when the static ballot is scanned.

E S and S tech support in Omaha, were asked, “What is the consequence of feeding in that ballot with that setting?”

Their response raised eyebrows.

“I don’t feel comfortable answering that question. I will have our media person call you.”

(Ed. Note: The investigative team had not yet heard from E S and S’s media person by the time of publishing.)

When casting a ballot, the voter is notified only that their ballot was read by the DS200. The elector and the poll workers would have no way of knowing that the choices made were accurately reflected in the final accounting of the election.

It is interesting to note that E S and S stated by telephone that they didn’t program the election settings for Windsor. Windsor did it themselves.

Furthermore, when E S and S, in Omaha, was contacted, one of the first things they said was that Canada doesn’t employ the Home Rotation setting. They also confirmed that, if the names on the physical ballots were static or, in other words, didn’t change position to permit each candidate the equal chance to be at the top of the order, then the Home Rotation setting isn’t the appropriate setting.

Why was the DS200 programed in this manner? Why was the Home Rotation Order setting used instead of the General Fixed Position?

You deserve to know.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.

2 Comments on "2014 Municipal Election: Did Your Vote Count?"

  1. Ian very nice article but the DS200 is a pile of junk because it must be to complicate for our city officials to set-up. They need a piece of equipment you plug in and its ready to go, anything more than that and our city personnel are stumped.

  2. Is this the same machine in question that has had issues in the US ?

    http://ffec.org/reports/Summary%20of%20DS200%20Overvote%20Findings.pdf

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