New Brunswick’s new voting machines may hinder a person’s right to secretly spoil their ballots in this year’s provincial election, according to a University of Moncton professor. Elections New Brunswick started using the electronic vote tabulation machines in 2008, but this is the first time the units have been used to count the ballots in a provincial election. The machines speed up the vote-counting process and are intended to be more accurate. However, Denis Duval, a University of Moncton professor, said he has a problem with the machines because they beep when a person selects more than one candidate or no candidates on their ballot. “It not only tells the person working the machine, but the beep also can be heard by people in line waiting to vote,” Duval said. He said it’s a fundamental right for people to cast their votes in secret, so Duval filed a complaint with Elections New Brunswick in 2012.
The agency told Duval the beeping assures there are no voting errors. David Owens, the assistant chief electoral officer, said less than one per cent of voters actually cancel or spoil their ballots.
Owens said steps are taken to ensure a voter’s privacy is maintained. “It’s done in a fashion that’s very discreet, there should be at least a 10-foot space around the machine so that the voters are not piling up very close to this,” Owens said.