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New Brunswick elections officials say they've ironed out kinks
In a little more than two months, New Brunswickers will be heading to the polls, and this time, the people who scrutinize the vote will be under scrutiny themselves, perhaps more than ever before.
Tuesday, they were offering assurances that there won't be a repeat of the election night debacle of four years ago.
Returning officers, clerks and other election workers are getting the basics on how to conduct a provincial election.
Election veterans say the pre-vote preparation, has changed a lot.
“Back in 2003, our training was a day or two days at the most,” says election worker Richard Thorne. “Now for returning officers, it's five days.”
That includes training on how to operate vote tabulation machines, which are a newer model than what was used in 2014, an election often remembered, for the glitches.
At one point, the vote count being released was even going backward.
Elections officials say the problem was not with the machines, but with accompanying computer software. This year, they say, safeguards have been added.
“All of the results data, there is a verification process before if even gets published to the public and the media, so we'll ensure that nothing unusual is happening to the data before it's made public,” said Kim Poffenroth, New Brunswick’s Chief Electoral Officer.
Political leaders say changes were certainly needed.
“Some of the glitches that happened, let's say, brought in some anxious moments,” said Blaine Higgs, New Brunswick’s Opposition Leader. “So, I understand if the system is getting better and people are working on it to make improvements, well hopefully that won't happen.”
Thorne has worked on more than a dozen elections, and says he has confidence in the system.
“I’ve participated in recounts and I can see the accuracy of the vote as it has passed through the tabulation machines, and how well that stands up to a judge looking at every single ballot,” said Thorne.
Officials say the mechanisms to be used this fall have passed more recent electoral tests.
“Municipal, by-elections and the province-wide elections held in 2016,” said Poffenroth. “It worked. No problems whatsoever, so I'm confident there will be no issues on Sept. 24.”
Of course the only test that really counts is on provincial election day, and whether accurate results come in that evening in a timely fashion.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.