None of the electronic votes cast by National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald were recorded at the recently concluded General Synod, July 7-12, because he was “erroneously listed” as “non-voting,” Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, confirmed today.
The error, which the Anglican Journal and another publication brought to Thompson’s attention on Friday, July 15, came on the heels of a vote miscount July 12, which dramatically reversed General Synod’s vote on same-sex marriage.
In a statement, Thompson said that in the process of reviewing the list, it was determined that “in addition to myself and the chancellor,” MacDonald was wrongly listed as non-voting in the spreadsheet provided to Data-on-the-Spot, the electronic voting services provider hired to manage the voting by clickers.
“I have spoken with and apologized personally to Bishop MacDonald, and he has been gracious and understanding,” said Thompson. “We are all deeply grateful to Bishop Mark, and to all those with whom he works, for the emerging clarity in the Indigenous Ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada.”
Thompson also acknowledged that “the integrity of voting at General Synod has come perilously close to breaking. I am grateful to all who have helped us understand where and how that integrity was put at risk.” Thompson said the information will help his office “both correct mistakes and, for future General Synods, learn how errors can be avoided.”
When contacted by the Journal Thursday, July 14, to find out if he was aware that his name was not on the list of voters at all, MacDonald, who was travelling, said in an email: “My vote was not recorded. I was apparently not on the list.” Asked if this was a mistake and if he had further comment, he said, “Yes. I voted on all items and apparently was not recorded.”
More than 200 members of General Synod 2016 had voted on a number of other motions, including one related to greater self-determination for Indigenous Anglicans in the church. MacDonald had also moved two resolutions related to responsible investing, including the creation of a task force for social and ecological investment.
Thompson said that if MacDonald’s vote were to have been registered and counted, it would not have changed the outcome of the motion to change the marriage canon to allow the solemnization of same-sex marriages.
“It would have increased the number of opposed in the order of bishops from 12 to 13 total (one-third of bishops present and voting). The number of bishops in favour would still have met the legislative threshold of two-thirds,” he said. Twenty-six, or 68.4%, of bishops voted in favour of the resolution.
Thompson said during the synod, MacDonald had approached the head table following the release of the voting information for the motion to revise the marriage canon. “At this time, he informed the primate that he had voted ‘no.’ ”
Thompson said he is seeking the advice of General Synod Chancellor David Jones and “will present a full report of all voting issues and recommendations of any possible mitigation, to the Council of General Synod at its first meeting in the fall.”