Today I voted in the 2006 Toronto Municipal Election
Advance polls have been open at city hall for over a week, the actual election day is not until Nov 13th. I prefer voting at the advance polls as its easier, and without the crowds and lineups, however it also grants a different perspective for the remainder of the campaign, which tends to be the nastiest and most conducive to empty promises.
I've also noticed over the last few elections, most recently the last federal one held this past winter, that here in Canada electronic voting machines are slowly and quietly being used instead of traditional paper ballots.
In the United States I've been closely following the debate and controversy around electronic voting machines, and their potential to be manipulated and thereby alter the results of an election. The concern is that the virtual can override the real, and votes that were not cast can actually be counted, and votes that were cast not counted. Greg Palast is an investigative journalist who has written on this as well as the general culture and practice of electoral fraud that currently exists in the US political system.
One thing I noticed right away when using the system setup at city hall, was a visible paper receipt that was generated as you made your votes, which I'm assuming can be used to audit the results if required/requested. Certainly this made me feel quite a bit more comfortable casting my vote electronically, and the receipt itself, while visible, is not accessible to the public, so you don't get a copy of who you voted for, but neither does anyone save for the appropriate election officials.
However it did occur to me that if you wanted to spoil your ballot, or write in a candidate, you might be shit out of luck. I've done both in past elections, either as a protest against voting as a shallow and superficial type of democratic participation, or because I felt there were no candidates worthy of my vote, yet I still wanted to vote and express my democratic rights, even if I felt they were shallow and futile. I also knew of people who as a form of protest either ate their ballot, or urinated on their ballot, both of which are acts of civil-disobedience, as to do either is illegal. Perhaps the voting machines need to be configured to have a "none of the above" option?
I voted for Kevin in large part as a protest against the current mayor David Miller, whom I feel is a disappointment, at least in his first term. I also could not vote for Miller's primary opponent, Jane Pitfield, as she's a total wingnut.
I voted for Adam because I feel he deserves more time to serve my ward, and when I've called his constituency office he's returned the call. None of the other candidates for council in my ward struck me as being worth my vote. Simon Wookey in particular I found to be rather arrogant and I could not support a number of his policy proposals.
The only reason I voted for Nellie Pedro was cause she's the incumbent. Terrible I know, but school trustees, especially candidates for school trustee, tend to have such low profiles as to effectively be invisible, certainly given the fact I have no children in the public school system. If I could have voted for "none of the above" when it came to school trustee I would have.