Electronic voting is not coming to Winnipeg city council meetings, but every vote cast by every council member will be recorded and publicly shared from now on.
On Thursday, council approved a call to have each councillor’s votes recorded and later posted on the city’s website, while stopping short of a real-time electronic voting system.
"(Using the electronic version) would have been a much stronger move… but (this) is still historic. It’s the first time in our city’s history that council voted unanimously to ensure that every vote will be counted… on a councillor-by-councillor basis," said Mayor Brian Bowman.
E-voting was added at executive policy committee meetings in September, with the exact results of each vote displayed live on video feeds of the meetings and on screens posted within city hall. The same votes are later posted online.
The mayor championed that system as a move to increase transparency and accountability.
"(That offers a) visual demonstration in real time and that real-time nature in the world that we’re living in right now, I think it (would have offered) a tremendous benefit to those... who want to see us be held accountable," said Bowman.
Electronic voting was expected to start at city council meetings in January.
However, the move was delayed after Coun. Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) and others argued the traditional voting system is easier for some citizens to follow than posting text results on a screen, especially those who don’t use smartphones or computers or whose first language is not English.
Traditionally, councillors simply called out "yea" or "nay" to vote, with the outcome not always immediately clear. Recorded votes could be requested by a council member, which would then require each councillor to stand and individually declare their decision.
While all council meeting votes will be recorded online in the future, Bowman said councillors will still be able to call for that standing vote process to highlight their support or opposition to a motion.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.