Calgary Election 2017: Workers uniquely tasked with counting ballots by hand

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Calgary continues to count votes by hand
WATCH: While most municipalities have moved to automated vote counting, Calgary continues to count ballots by hand. Joel Senick looks at why – Oct 13, 2017

Calgary is Alberta’s only major city that still counts its ballots by hand, according to the official responsible for overseeing Monday’s election.

“Council has confidence in it and the electors have confidence in it so we continue to use it as our counting method for the end of the election night count,” said Laura Kennedy, Elections Calgary’s returning officer.

“I think this is a methodology that Calgary has used successfully over the years.”

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Kennedy explained that most large Canadian cities use electronic tabulators to determine the outcomes of their general elections. However, on Monday night, roughly 3,000 election workers will sift through Calgary’s returns by hand before declaring a winner.

“I like it,” incumbent Mayor Naheed Nenshi said to reporters following a campaign stop Friday morning.

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“I am not a Luddite in many ways, but I am a Luddite on this one, because I know that a hand count can always be verified and can be retrieved.”

Bill Smith, Nenshi’s main competitor said “it’s what the total is at the end” that matters most to him. However, he indicated that he would be willing to discuss the process if elected.

“If we could save time and paper, then maybe we should look at it.”

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Kennedy admitted that results generated from an electronic counter may come in a little earlier than the hand count, but said residents should still know Monday’s results by late that night.

“After the election, we’ll look at all of our processes as we always do and if we do see some enhancements we can make, we’ll look at it at that time,” Kennedy said.

“Right now, we’ve got a good, solid process.”

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