Written by Rebecca Woods
Given an opportunity for redemption on Monday morning, the new General Synod electronic voting system showed some promise but has yet to achieve a state of grace with many delegates.
But given the chance to opt-out and return to paper voting cards, delegates responded with a resounding “No,” determined to keep trying to make the system work. This vote, though, was by voice, not electronic.
Following a pre-meeting re-orientation to the white voting keypads, sample votes were taken and appeared successful. Even two votes related to UCC finances went smoothly. However, a vote on a “Mutual Recognition of Baptism” was met with the familiar calls of “it’s not working.”
Debbie Manly, a delegate from the Wisconsin Conference, stated what may have been was on the minds of many delegates. “I came here to have a voice in voting, in the whole time that [voting slide on the plenary hall screen] was up, I pushed this five times and it’s not working after five times.”
Given the continuing issues with the voting system, Douglas Fauth, also from Wisconsin, suggested that the moderator make certain all delegate votes were recorded after close of voting. “There should be an opportunity for us to raise hands and acknowledge problems.”
After some discussion during the morning presentations, Associate General Minister Edith Guffey acknowledged that electronic voting is necessary for smooth business, but gave delegates a choice to continue using the new system. “It’s important for all to feel their votes are counted.” She offered to make electronic voting a “gift to the next General Synod.” Delegates responded no.
Assistant Moderator the Rev. Patricia Aurand announced that voting will be both electronic and by hand to assure delegates that their votes are properly counted.
With no additional actions coming to the floor, the afternoon sessions will be the next opportunity to finally determine if electronic voting is an interesting experiment or the way of the future.