Opening Statement



Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Telephone + Online Voting: Yay or Nay?

At Wednesday TSU UAGM you can vote for online or telephone voting. The resolution reads:

TSU UAGM RESOLUTION #13:  "Elections for Unit Executive officers, whenever they are subject to election, may be conducted by a) telephone voting; b) internet voting, or c) paper ballot in each secondary school or designated/ declared site. The method of balloting shall be as determined and announced by the executive by Jan. 31."

Rationale Given:   "Permits alternate methods of balloting."

During this year's TSU executive election a lot of our members could not vote. Some teachers were at track and field, as well as at other coached meets. Others took students to a candlelight vigil on Parliament Hill. The CLC and other meetings couldn't be rescheduled. Members were sick on code 10's. There was confusion with OT's , LTO's, resource staff, and incomplete school lists. I heard about these problems from members as a candidate on election day. I suspect there may be many more.

Paper balloting was often a nightmare too. Ballots, boxes, scrutineers, voting areas, timelines, spoiled ballots -all are very 19th century. The Election Committee tried it's very best but results weren't available until approximately 1:30 am. Scrutineers and the Election Committee had to return next day to decide the 2nd VP race. On and on the list of problems goes.

The in school voting by-laws were approved "in block" at UAGM 10. The distributed minutes state;

"There was a discussion around in-school voting. Some felt there were concerns with the overall proposal and some members needed to have the process explained in greater and clearer detail. Those in favour of passing the motions about in-school voting stated that this idea was always being postponed and that members pass it as is and leave it to the executive to iron out the details prior to next year's UAGM."

Majority rules of course. UAGM is a "general meeting" open to all our members. The by-law was approved, as written, by those there. Good enough. However, little to no direction was included for the logistical questions of how in school voting could be orderly, fairly, and securely implemented. And any other options besides paper balloting were not allowed.

Your 2010-11 executive created election committees to consult with our members.It's not fair to blame the problems on the executive, the election committees, or the consultation process. TSU had to deliver a comprehensive plan which met OECTA provincial's approval, so we could act on your instructions to have in school voting this May. Everyone tried their best, but there was the clear stipulation that we needed to use paper ballots only, and that you needed to vote at your school, no if, ands, or buts.

You can change that at Wednesday's UAGM by approving Resolution #13 to allow telephone or online voting for next year. Expect a very interesting debate. One can argue that all of our members could now vote at school, on the school computers and phones, or anywhere else they might be, as long as they were available. We could have more time to vote during the day by using more updated and efficient methods of voting that can also provide instant computerized results. On and on the list of pros can go!

Online or telephone voting companys charge $3-5000 each year. Is that okay? The original by-laws weren't costed. There aren't any fixed financial terms to refer too. The companys provide voter identification codes. What about all the unused codes? Could candidates collect these as proxy votes? Can we control that whether it is allowed or not? What other voter identification could be used, even if the various available systems can use them? Would you want your employee number, SIN number, or OCT number used? If not, what then? Also what happens if the system crashes as electronic systems are apt to do? On and on the list of cons can go too!

What do we do? Please look at the TSU UAGM Resolutions booklet. Your staff rep was sent copies of these. Consider carefully Resolution #13. Check out the related resolutions, related and unrelated, as well. Come listen, debate and vote. It's your unit, your by-law and your TSU executive. It's up to you to decide what happens next year. I hope to see you on Wednesday night!

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