Sunday, January 20, 2008

Accountable Voting

In the recent vote on the Vantreight Proposal a great deal of confusion was caused by the fact that our elected officials don't have to publicly state how they are voting. Many people thought Councillor Mason voted against the motion, thus supporting the Vantreight Proposal when in fact she voted with the rest of the Council making the result unanimous.

The trouble lies in the voting procedure. If you are voting for a motion you do not have to raise your hand or signify your intentions in any way. By doing nothing you are assumed to have voted for the motion.

To vote against the motion you need to raise your hand, but your hand can easily be missed.

To abstain you need to make a statement to that effect.

In any case the vote itself is not recorded only the result (passed/failed/referred etc). Unless a Councillor specifically asks for their vote to be recorded no notation is made.

As a result our Councillors can easily hide contentious votes and we the citizens are deprived of a very basic democratic right.

Our MPs and MLAs votes are available to all, but our Councillors are not held accountable. It's time for a change. Democracy only works if the process is transparent. Councillors should have to raise their hands for each stage of a vote (yea, nay or abstain) and raise them high enough for everyone to see.

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