We are still not convinced

votingmachineMonday night the Cobourg Council received a report from Staff about the last election and the efficiency of the voting system – online voting. Read the report here and it is a pretty standard one. But one aspect of the report did bother us here at the BR. Part of the report describes the demographic breakdown of the voters.

voterageAs paranoid as we are at the BR this breakdown did make us twitch a bit and wonder about privacy concerns. How did the Voting Company obtain the ages of all the voters?

So a phone call to the Company – Intellivote Systems Inc., was made. Phoning the 1-888 number we were astounded to be speaking to Dean Smith. Answering his own toll-free number he is obviously a hands-on kind of guy. The interview told us many things and he spent as much time as we wanted to answer all the questions.

In answer to the basic question – “how did he get the ages of the voters?” He told us that the information came from MPAC, the Provincial property assessment organisation. As well as having to assess the Province’s properties MPAC also has the responsibility to maintain the Voters’ Lists. In the gathering of the info for the Voters’ Lists essential information is collected. One piece of information is the Voter’s date of birth. This used to determine elegibility to vote. But as this information is specific each vote is now paired with the age of the voter. The accumulated information is now collected in age groups, each group being a decade. It is possible to produce such charts as the one in the report – reproduced above. Presumably Political Scientists and Politicians just love this stuff, we disagree on the methodology. This kind of information (DOBs) should be private and not become “tombstone info”. The gathering of such info should be voluntary, just add it to the box on the first screen, and if that renders the statistics unreliable because of insufficient data then so be it!

On another subject, it was revealed in the interview that Intellivote, and the Provinces, consider the voting machines so accurate they cannot be challenged for infallibility. The idea of printing a screen capture for a recount is easily possible but under Provincial rules, in Ontario a paper count is not allowed as the legislation states, “When recounts are mandated or requested then the recount shall take place in the same manner as the vote.” As Mr Smith told us, “There will always be people who don’t like the idea of machines and still like paper.” He did say that most of the problems the industry has encountered are with tabulators or scanning transfer machines, not the voting machines. Besides all of his machines and systems are subjected to rigourous Industry and Provincial audits, on a regular basis. All in all he is a man committed to his cause.

We just wish we could be so committed.

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