Photo by Chung Chow
For those glued to their screens Saturday night waiting for the civic election results, things didn’t go as quickly or as smoothly as in past civic elections.
While the polls closed at 8 p.m., the first results didn’t come through until 9:06 p.m. That resulted in a sudden hush at Richmond First headquarters.
The scene was similar at other locations as candidates and voters waited anxiously to see how the numbers would unfold. When the numbers finally started coming in, the crowd at a combined Richmond Citizens Association and Richmond Independent Team of Electors at the Richmond Curling Club gathering rushed the nearest TV set with bated breath.
An elderly woman at Mayor Malcolm Brodie’s campaign headquarters was equally frustrated by the delay in results, asking reporters why it was taking so long for an electronic counting system to tally the numbers.
A voting machine breakdown at Tomekichi Homma Elementary School in Steveston, resulting in people waiting as much as 45 minutes before they could vote, certainly contributed.
At least one voter left the polling station, but a source told The Richmond Sentinel that he was surprised by how many people waited patiently to vote, a sign that this election meant something to them. Another voter, who wished to remain anonymous, said that during advanced voting on Oct. 6, he was among those who voted, and was told to insert his ballot, face-up, into the machine. He protested, concerned that his voting information might be seen by others, but a person who was either a volunteer or a staffer, insisted that face-up was the right way to insert it. But afterwards, he was told that the actual proper procedure was to insert the ballot face-down, and he now wonders whether his vote, and those of others that day, were actually counted.
“The machine at Homma was not processing the ballots as expected, but ballots were still cast via the emergency compartment which is used if the voting place loses power or the machine requires repair,” explained Ted Townsend, director of corporate communications and marketing for the City of Richmond.
“These votes still counted,” he continued. “A machine expert was deployed to fix the problem (but) unfortunately the problem wasn’t solved with the machine. A new machine was activated and ballots were processed as normal.”
Townsend added that regardless of the way the ballots were submitted into the machine at city hall, they would have counted.
“The voting machines read ballots in any direction: face up, face down, forwards or backwards (but) it’s best practice that ballots are cast face down to protect the voter’s privacy. Election officials handled the situation to the best of their ability, by providing space for the voters to cast their votes.”
The city apologizes to voters for the wait, with Townsend explaining that staff dealt with the unusual situation immediately and in accordance with procedure while protecting the integrity of the election.
Another hiccup involved a memory stick, which was corrupted, resulting in a long delay before the final results were tallied.
Justinne Ramirez, spokesperson for the Richmond Elections Office, announced the problem with the memory stick at 11:41 p.m. Saturday.
“…(D)ue to a corrupted memory stick, ballots from City Hall advance voting on Oct. 6 have to be counted again. This is expected to take some time.”