By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD
People sometimes ask me how the TNRD board voted on a certain issue. While I can always tell them whether something was approved or rejected by the board, the votes by individual directors are a different matter.
Under the board’s current procedure bylaw, there’s no requirement that the vote of each director be recorded. This is largely because there are 26 directors — counting hands and taking names would slow down the meetings considerably.
There’s a provision that, if any director wishes his or her vote to be recorded in the minutes, they can ask. I use this provision because I like my vote to be on record. This, however, can lead to a situation where the minutes of a meeting can be misleading.
Say the board votes on a motion to purchase a new coffee machine. Twenty-three directors vote in favour of the motion but three vote against. Two of the three directors ask that their votes be recorded but one doesn’t.
The motion will be recorded as being approved, with two directors in opposition. And, there will be no indication of how many voted for it or against it.
I think the people we represent have a right to know how each of us votes on every question. At this week’s board meeting, I gave notice of motion that administration be directed to look into the costs of installing an electronic voting system in the boardroom. These systems are capable of instantly recording and displaying the exact vote.
My motion will come up for debate at the next meeting of the board. I don’t know the cost of such systems but I do know they work well, so I’m hopeful the motion to investigate will find support.
Here’s my notice of motion:
WHEREAS transparency and accountability are fundamental to our democratic process;
AND WHEREAS citizens have an interest in and a right to know how their elected representatives vote on resolutions and issues put before them;
AND WHEREAS municipal councils and senior governments commonly record the votes of their members on public business, leaving the TNRD as an anomaly in this respect;
AND WHEREAS modern electronic voting systems are capable of instantaneously providing exact results for votes taken by elected bodies, which streamlines the voting process;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board direct administration to investigate the cost of options for an electronic voting system for Board meetings, and report back to the Board by the first regular Board meeting in June, and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that administration also report back to the board at that same meeting on any changes to the Board’s Code of Conduct and Procedure Bylaw that would be necessary in order to be consistent with the tallying of Board votes with an electronic voting system.