Province Amending Elections Act to Make Voting Process Easier, More Efficient

March 2, 2022 – Changes Include Use of Technology to Improve Voter Check-In, Vote Counting Efficiency: Goertzen

Manitoba is introducing amendments to the Elections Act that would make the voting process easier and more efficient while preserving and ensuring ballot secrecy and election integrity, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.

“It is important to continue to modernize our electoral system to improve its fairness and accessibility to voters,” said Goertzen. “Offering more flexibility to vote and ensuring that those who may struggle with individual physical challenges are accommodated is another step in bettering our electoral system.”

Paper ballots would continue to be issued and the new bill would allow the chief electoral officer to authorize the use of vote-counting machines to count the vote. The secrecy of the ballot would continue to be protected under the amendments with safeguards in place, such as machine pre-testing and restrictions regarding electronic access to data, to ensure the integrity of the process.

At voting stations, voters would be served by the first available voting officer instead of going to an assigned table, thereby reducing lineups. Manual counting of ballots would continue in some rural and remote regions as determined by Elections Manitoba. Results would not be generated until the election day to ensure integrity.

“These changes have either been recommended by the chief electoral officer in annual reports or discussed with political parties in legislative committees,” said Goertzen. “All political parties have an interest in making our election system stronger as these amendments do.”

Changes would also streamline the advance voting process by counting ballots by residents or non-residents in the electoral division where they were cast on election night, then reporting those results to the appropriate home electoral division via secure electronic technology. This method would eliminate the current requirement that advance voting results must first be sent to the chief electoral officer, then forwarded to each non-resident’s home returning office.

“We must never take our democratic system for granted,” said Goertzen. “We continue to work with election officials and political parties to strengthen our electoral process.” 

The amendments would also introduce special printers to print on-demand ballots at the voting location for non-residents voting in advance outside of their electoral division and in other specified circumstances. On-demand ballots would list the appropriate candidate names for the voter’s electoral division, reducing the need for write-in ballots.

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