Know how they vote

A group calling itself Know How They Vote is asking the Nova Scotia House of Assembly to abandon its traditional practice of unrecorded votes.

A news release from Michael Kennedy, the group’s director, points out that, although any two MLAs can request a roll call vote, only one percent of the legislature’s decisions in the last six years have been by recorded vote. Moneyquote:

The democratic deficit in Nova Scotia is growing. With every unrecorded vote in the Legislature, our MLAs get farther and farther away from our scrutiny. Choosing not to record votes is choosing not to be transparent and accountable to the constituents that you represent.”

In the current Inverness and Antigonish byelections, the group won endorsements of the principle of recorded votes from Liberal Ian McNeil and Verdant Nathalie Arsenault (both running in Inverness), but got thumbs down from Liberal Miles Tompkins (Antigonish) and PC Allan MacMaster (Inverness). No word on where the NDP candidates stand.

[Update:] Miles Tompkins explains:

I have no objection to recorded votes, but I don’t assume that it alone will make the process function better. The first thing that would have to change to allow the individual MLA some autonomy would be confidence votes. At present, many things can be construed as confidence measures. Multiple changes have to be in place to take the edge off such votes. The single act of recording votes would be like having all the cars drive on the right hand side of the road to see if it would work….and moving the trucks and buses over next month….