These numbers just in...Hamilton helped usher in a new age to the voting process 54 years ago
By Erica Strada
Hamilton’s municipal election of Dec. 5, 1956 was the first to employ computerized tabulation in Canadian history. Using the punch card accounting system typically used for payroll, assessment and taxes, the returns were punched onto cards as they were received, then printed and proofread before finally being released to the media.
Whereas the old manual system required 70 people to process returns, the new automated system needed just five, with votes that once took an hour to count now taking only minutes. Consequently, an official recap of the standings of the candidates went from a day to an hour.
Lloyd D. Jackson won another term as mayor of Hamilton that day, a post he held from 1950-1962. While there was some dissatisfaction over the city’s conversion to one-way streets earlier that year, Jackson’s downtown focus, including the construction of the new city hall, helped carry him to victory.
Fifty-four years later, another modern technology, online voting, was employed as the popular vote swung in favour of Bob Bratina. While his platform was the thinnest of the three contenders, Bratina finished nearly 12,000 votes ahead of runner-up Larry Di Ianni, earning 37.44 percent of the vote to the former mayor’s 28.5 percent, with incumbent Fred Eisenberger claiming 27.17 percent.
Thanks to today’s voting system, Bratina’s victory was being predicted little more than an hour after the polls had closed.