Monday 9/13/93 pg. A12

(Halifax, Nova Scotia)

"MT&T's televote system worked 'flawlessly' in B.C."

by Kelly Shiers
British Columbia's Liberals let their fingers do the voting -- and elected a new leader this weekend with the help of Nova Scotia telephone technology.

Maritime Tel & Tel's televoting system performed well, processing 6,540 votes 'flawlessly,' said Don Farmer, MT&T's vice president of operations. Former Vancouver mayor Gordon Campbell took the first-ballot victory in the leadership race with 4,141 of those votes.

Televoting has "only been done (in two places) in the world, in Nova Scotia and once in British Columbia," he said.

He added future prospects for the voting system are exciting.

Televoting was first introduced to Nova Scotians in June 1992 when the province's Liberals were choosing a new leader. That first attempt to vote by telephone ended in a highly-publicized failure, but a second vote, held two weeks later, went off without any problems.

Since that first system was developed, the telephone company has partnered itself with IBM and has developed a "totally new system," he said. This weekend's vote in British Columbia was the first application of that system.

While the mechanics of the system did work well, there were some problems with voters who did not understand how the system works, said Mr. Farmer.

Some callers to a special problems' hotline said they were unable to get through to cast their votes, but it was discovered that they were not using touch-tone phones required by the system. [Technology exists to permit voting with dial phones as well. This was used in the 1974 Televote trials -editor]

As a result, Mr. Farmer said the Liberal Party asked that the members be allowed more time to get to other telephones to cast their votes, so the first-ballot results were tabulated later than originally expected.

Mr. Farmer said both the telephone company and IBM are discussing the televoting service with organizations around the world.

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