Ballot box left behind after 2017 Edmonton election: auditor's report

A ballot box was left behind at a voting station during the October 2017 municipal election in Edmonton, according to a city auditor's report.

Problems with election training and technology also evident during municipal vote

Other training and technology problems were evident, according to the report. (CBC)

A ballot box was left behind at a voting station during the October 2017 municipal election in Edmonton, according to a city auditor's report.

It's one of a handful of issues outlined in the report, which recommends improving election-related technology and offering better training for workers.

"The recommendations are important for us," said Iain MacLean, director of elections and census for the city.

Forgotten ballot box

Auditors visited half of the city's 240 advance and election-day polling stations.

MacLean said his office notified the auditors of a forgotten ballot box on election night.

All votes in the box were counted, but a worker forgot to take the box with the others at the end of the night.

"In this instance, the election worker did not do what they had been trained to do," said MacLean.

"It was handled in 24 hours ... It's unfortunate that it happened, but it was handled and taken care of."

Other training issues came up around pre-initialled ballots, according to the report written by city auditor David Wiun.

Ballot clerks are supposed to confirm voter eligibility before initialling ballots, but the audit found up to 400 cases where clerks had initialled them ahead of time.

The audit says that while the 2017 election had fewer issues than were reported in 2013, the pre-initialled ballot problem was present during both elections.

"Where we're seeing a common theme from multiple elections, [the audit] is addressing things like that that I think are really important," said Coun. Andrew Knack.

"All aspects of training and hiring practices will be evaluated for future elections," the city said in response to the audit.

Better tech support

The audit also highlights issues with election-related technology.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, tests showed a large number of counting machines had a hardware problem that prevented them from transmitting results.

Coun. Andrew Knack said he's pleased with the audit. (CBC)

MacLean said the city does multiple tests to catch problems such as this before election day.

The report said some workers at voting stations inside schools could not connect tablets  to Wi-Fi because there was a last-minute change to passwords that was not relayed to election officials.

The tablets are used to keep track of how many ballots are used to make sure stations don't run out.

The report recommends the city clerk evaluate "current and future need for technical support requirements" to eliminate such tech-related issues.

The city intends to fix all of the issues outlined in the report by 2020, one year before the next municipal election.

"We don't take the auditor's comments and just let them sit on the shelf," said MacLean.

"We implement them and look into our training and our hiring practices."

The report, and the city administration's response, will be up for discussion at the next audit committee meeting on Feb. 9.