Chicago City Council unanimously passes electronic voting resolution

The Chicago City Council unanimously passed a historic resolution Wednesday that will allow electronic voting in council halls.

The resolution was introduced by city clerk Anna Valencia, senior woman Michelle Harris and Mayor Laurie E. Lightfoot as part of an initiative aimed at streamlining the current legislative system – creating a more efficient and effective council process.

“This is a historic day for the Chicago City Council,” Valencia said. “This is the first step towards our broader goal of creating a more efficient and accessible city council. Electronic voting will benefit not only the members themselves, but will also give Chicagoans a clearer understanding of how their government works.”

According to a press release from the Valencia office, the whole clerk’s initiative to modernize the Council is divided into three stages: electronic voting to streamline the current voting process, being the first. The first phase will also include digital co-sponsorship and digital representation and tracking of legislation. The second phase will focus on moving more paper committees, paperless ones and improving data sharing departments. Finally, the third phase will include the introduction of language access and ADA and real-time electronic voting for all committees.

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According to the release, this resolution achieves two things; it gives aldermen the possibility of electronic voting in the chambers of the Council, and the second part establishes a set of instructions for electronic voting.

“Electronic voting is a fast, sustainable and affordable solution to the challenges posed by traditional paper-based voting methods,” Lightfoot said. “By introducing this method of voting in the city council, we will be able to increase the efficiency and transparency of council processes. I congratulate the clerk of Valencia for this huge step forward in modernizing and streamlining the procedures of the city council.”

Valencia said it began the work in 2017 when its office brought together a diverse group of people to gather feedback on how to improve the function, accessibility and transparency of the city council process. The group included mayors, representatives of the mayor’s office and various city departments. In addition, efforts also included an external advisory board composed of scientific and public stakeholders.

According to Valencia, after providing electronic knowledge sharing (EKI) as a provider, the groups worked together to bring electronic voting to Chicago for the first time in the city’s history.

“It is a great honor for us to co-sponsor this resolution with Clerk Valencia,” said Harris, chairman of the Committee on Committees and Rules. “EVoting is changing the way we work as a legislature, and is a significant step towards modernizing the Chicago City Council. I look forward to continuing this collaboration as we work to streamline the council process.”

The vote is expected to take effect in March 2022 in Council halls.

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