GA 2010: Voting system taken for a “test drive”

MINNEAPOLIS – At the start of the plenary session today (July 7), Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the 219th General Assembly, asked the commissioners and advisory delegates to join her in a test drive of the assembly’s new electronic keypad voting system.

The first time the assembly tried the new voting system, on July 3 – the night Bolbach was elected moderator – the system had some hiccups, and some commissioners questioned whether their votes were being accurately counted.

Since then, the assembly’s General Assembly Procedures Committee has used the keypads in its deliberations, and the committee’s vice-moderator, Olanda Carr Jr. of Charlotte Presbytery, said he is confident based on those trials that the new keypads work well, pointing out that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America used the same keypads at its denominational assembly in this same convention center last summer – and used them to decide a very controversial matter by a very close vote.

Carr did have some suggestions for the commissioners, however.

Among them:

    * Make sure your voting keypad is turned on.
    * Set the pad down after voting with it. “It is not delicate, but works best when it is allowed to do its work in peace,” he said.

Bolbach then took the system out for a drive, asking commissioners to vote on first-gear questions such as whether they’d seen fireworks on July 4 and “have you hugged a Presbyterian today?”

With that, Bolbach – sharing her wit right from the start – joked that “anyone who knows me knows I didn’t write that question.”

And, when the results came in, “OK, 32 percent of us are introverts.”

Photo by Erin Dunigan