The meeting, scheduled July 3 to 7 in Ottawa, will use technology that allows people to vote electronically using a handheld device.
J.P. Copeland, president of Data on the Spot, walked members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS) through the new “clicker” technology during its fall meeting Nov. 15 to 18.
CoGS members were given clickers and asked to respond to some test polls to demonstrate the speed at which data can be gathered.
Each device has a unique ID so there’s “an audit trail,” which assures that all votes are recorded, said Copeland. Respondents get a green light to confirm that they’ve responded and the device only records a single vote no matter how many times you respond to each poll or vote.
The technology allows for 1,000 responses to be counted and tabulated in 10 seconds, he said.
Copeland said his company has worked with clients such as the Liberal Party Biennial Convention and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. “We’ve had to go through a lot of scrutiny, so we’re well-vetted,” he assured CoGS.
Aside from speed, the clicker technology gives the option of anonymity and allows ranking. “What’s neat about clickers is that you may have 20 resolutions and they all pass. But you can rank them in order of the level of support they receive,” he said. Data received will be stored and can be segmented into various criteria, such as how groups (e.g. bishop, laity) voted, he added.
Dean Peter Wall, chair of the General Synod planning committee, said the use of the clicker technology was motivated by the need to speed things up since the meeting has been reduced from the usual nine days to four days. “It also provides us with information we have not had before, such as the percentage of votes,” he said.