Thursday, September 08, 2011

My First Electronic Ballot

I just finished voting in the 2011 Alberta Liberal Leadership Race. This is the first time that I've ever voted electronically, and as far as I can tell, it worked pretty smoothly: I was snail-mailed a unique PIN along with the URL of a special website set up for the vote. I had to pass a CAPTCHA to ensure that I was a real person and not a robot attempting to subvert the vote; then, I was asked to rank my choices on the preferential ballot.

I've seen a few complaints on Twitter and FaceBook from Liberals (and others) disgruntled that Dr. Raj Sherman appeared at the top of the ballot, instead of at the bottom, where traditional alphabetic ordering would place him. At first this concerned me as well, but when I was presented with my ballot, the candidates were ordered as follows:

Laurie BLAKEMAN
Bruce PAYNE
Dr. Raj SHERMAN
Hugh MACDONALD
Bill HARVIE

That's not alphabetical order, but nor is Sherman at the top of the list. This suggests to me that the candidates are ordered randomly, and that each voter sees one arrangement of however many mathematical permutations there are of those five names. I have no idea what the paper ballots will look like, of course; I would imagine they're going to be sorted alphabetically.

Whatever the outcome of the race, I'm excited by the Alberta Liberals' efforts to make voting more accessible. My snail-mail voting instruction sheet also included options to vote by telephone, and of course people can still vote in person on September 10th if they choose to do so.

If you're an Alberta Liberal Party member or Registered Supporter and haven't yet voted, I encourage you to do so. It's fast, easy, and above all, satisfying to know that you've performed an important civic duty.

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