The byelection has gone by

Well, I think I have sufficiently recovered from my ordeal on voting day to be able to write about it to the FV Ginger list. I was an SRO, Chief Supervising Honcho, at a polling place. I watched over five polls and dealt with all the trouble which came up.

Voting reform types should be interested in the actual management of elections. Whatever system you use, that is where the rubber meets the road. Even in the most perfect proportional system, somebody has to count the votes by hand.

This is one job that should be safe from automation. As we have seen in the Excited States of America, if not elsewhere, electronic voting is open to manipulation. We have the stories of these voting machines running backwards.

It is said that the real reason Obama won reelection was because some hackers broke into the Republican's central vote rigging computer and took it down. The European Union had some people make a three year study of electronic voting and they concluded that there was no way any automated or phone it in system could be made secure. Does everybody remember the NDP's trouble with people hacking their computerized convention?

To have real elections, somebody has to count the votes by hand and show that they have been counted right. The ballots received must equal the ballots returned plus the ballots given out and any wasted ones. The ballots given out must equal the ballots found in the box at close of poll, less ones somebody walks out with. And of course, the vote for each party must add up to the total ballots.

You do not get to go home until it all balances out. You have to do this after sitting there for twelve hours, checking people off and giving them ballots, when your brain is totally fried. The thing about working the federal elections is that the instructions for closing are so convoluted that they get people confused and paranoid.

This happened with one of my darlings. He had actually balanced out but had become obsessed with all this "...put A inside envelope number so and so, put envelope so and so inside bigger envelope number such and such, seal it with seal number this that, get the poll clerk to sign,..." Afraid of making the slightest mistake, he kept doing it over and over.

The poll clerk was climbing up the walls. The rest of the people had balanced up and were headed back to the office, and I had helped the janitor to clean the place up, stack tables and chairs etc. Finally I told him; "okay, its eleven o'clock, throw it into the box and take it down to the office."

Then I and the poll clerk and the janitor got to go home. I wrestled my trusty old bundle buggy onto the bus, all full of signs and forms and odds and ends which could be reused in the next election, because Elections Canada is trying to be environmentally friendly. I found the bus packed with people lugging ballot boxes back to the office, complaining about the long day and asshole SROs.

I did not have to go back to the office that night. I went in the next day to deliver all these recyclables, a driver's license somebody had forgotten, and a pair of reading glasses a poll clerk had left behind. I checked with the payroll guy to insure he understood the situation with the deputy returning officer who had to go home ill, to insure she got paid for the full day.

He said I had less trouble than most poll stations. I thought it was a good thing we were able to get a replacement out to the location so quickly for the ill DRO, because I was having a hard time getting one of the information officers to take her place. They were not team players; wanted guarantees they would get paid more. Jerks!

To start the day there was one more poll clerk than needed. The obnoxious DRO, the person who counts the ballots and who the poll clerk works for, had the fixed idea that A should be her poll clerk. I had B on my records. She was hollering that I did not know what I was doing, blah, blah.

We finally got through to the office, who told her to calm down and do what she was told, and that B was indeed the poll clerk. So A went home and B sat down and the DRO shut her mouth. I urged A to go back to the office and try to get them to give her some other work; that shouldn't have been hard given all the replacements I heard that they had to make.

As well, I had to threaten an obnoxious scrutineer with the police. We keep a "score sheet" on who has already voted, so that the "outside scrutineers", the ones who go in and out of the polling station, can try to make sure all their party's supporters get out to vote. Some of the poll clerks were not submitting score sheets fast enough to suit this joker.

I remember once working as an outside scrutineer, for the NDP by the way, before they instituted these score sheets. We sat and waited until the poll clerk had a free minute and then looked at the book, scribbling numbers. We are under no obligation to do this at all for scrutineers.

But this guy really had his ass in an uproar. The Liberal scrutineers suggested I should pull his credentials, but I just let him blow off some steam. However, when he started bothering the DROs, I told him to leave. He refused so I called the cops. He left, I cancelled the call.

He was just about the personification of what I do not like about the NDP; wants to order everybody else around. Even hard case Conservatives are not like that; they just look at you like you should be dead. This is why the NDP did not win and likely never will win in Toronto Center; it is full of social housing which is full of people who have had a gutfull of crap from social worker types.

Not that all NDP people are like that. One of the deepers even brought in Timbits for us. Once it got to the counting, the NDP and Libs respected each others space very well.

I hear tell that this was a really nasty fight between the two parties. I don't know; I was unable to attend any of the candidate meetings because I was always working on the Advance Poll or in Ottawa with the housing group. But one Liberal talked about some shout downs and commotions with the NDP at one of these events.

I had no comment. I was just there to work on the election.

But how will this work when we have proportional representation? With MMP, I believe you use two ballot boxes. That will make counting and completing the paper work twice as long. And you have twice as much stuff to lug out to the polling station and back again.

But how in hell would STV work? Check out the web page about counting rules or STV; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counting_single_transferable_votes#Counting_rules

Brain fried DROs are supposed to calculate a quota and then do all this counting and recounting, while keeping a record? I assume they would just record the preferences and phone them in, but even that would take awhile. Still, manual calculation would be impossible, you would have to do it electronically, and that is reason number one why I do not like STV.

Something needs to be done to make the job easier for the poll workers. Fifteen hours is really too much. It should be possible to do it in shifts.

It is no problem to open the ballot box and count the ballots which have accumulated so far. With the advanced poll, we did that twice, and the DRO took the box home after resealing it. A morning shift could count up and then reseal the box and turn it over to an afternoon shift.

But for now, the vote is done, the Alberta gal from Peace River is going to be my MP for a couple of years. The city elections will be in a year and there will likely be a provincial vote next year too. About 800 mostly retired and low income people have some money for Christmas.

Enough said.