When the official vote count begins for the P.E.I. plebiscite, it will be a computer that tallies up the votes and declares the winner. This is P.E.I.’s first foray into electronic voting and the first time those votes will be counted and processed by a computer, instead of by people. “If we had to count all those ballots manually I think we’d be there for months,” said Harry Neufeld, who’s co-ordinating the audit team for the plebiscite. He’s the former chief electoral officer of British Columbia and has been involved in several electoral reviews in other provinces. When voting ends on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 8 pm, the ballot boxes will be collected from across the Island and taken to Elections P.E.I. office where they’ll be secured overnight.
On Sunday, the counting will begin. Stacks of ballots will be fed into an electronic tabulator, similar to a photocopy machine.
“Every ballot that runs through, at 300 a minute, it’s creating an image,” said Glenn Foote of Election Systems and Software Canada (ES&S). He’ll be feeding the ballots into the machine.
The tabulator is set up to identify ballots that are missing key information, like the district number, or ones that aren’t filled out properly.