The good folks at Six Apart have listened to their customers and have significantly fixed their new licensing structure. Earlier, they had received flack for a structure that was overly expensive and restrictive. Now with a personal or a commercial license, customers are entitled to run an unlimited number of weblogs. The first tier of personal licensing limits users to just five authors; the second tier (under $100) offers an unlimited number of authors. Between this and discounts offered for my beta work and previous donations, the cost of purchasing Movable Type 3.0 is very reasonable for me.
A smart move on the part of the folks at Six Apart was their inclusion of non-profit licenses. I have to wonder if the folks weren't reading my post when they decided to make their addition to the licensing structure.
Picking Up Ballot Boxes and Swearing Oaths
Yesterday afternoon, I spent three hours training to be a deputy returning officer. The ballot box and all the materials I need to set up poll #085 of Kitchener Centre is now residing secure in my home. Once again, I am moved by how much the election in Canada depends upon the hard work and cooperation of individuals who set aside their personal political opinions and work only to serve the process.
The training session trained deputy returning officers and poll clerks, one of each are paired up at a poll to take votes and check people off the voters' list. A deputy returning officer and a poll clerk must be present at all times that ballots are taken. We were sternly warned to bag a lunch and a dinner and except for bathroom breaks (during which time the poll is to briefly close), I am not allowed to leave my post between 9:30 am and 9:30 pm. During this session, all deputy returning officers and poll clerks were called upon to recite and sign the same oath, basically requiring us to act in an impartial manner, maintain and help to maintain the secrecy of the vote, and respect the confidentiality of all involved in the process.
As a result of this oath, Deputy Returning Officers are not allowed to campaign for a specific candidate or party during the election, between the time they recite the oath, and the final tallying and reporting of the ballots to the Chief Returning Officer. Out of respect for this, a couple of posts I've written but not posted yet which might be seen as critical of one party or another won't appear on this site until after the election is over and the results tabulated.
To ensure that all polls open on time, the office here is going to call all Deputy Returning Officers on Sunday night to make sure that they're ready and able to go to the polls. As Deputy Returning Officer, I need to keep in contact my poll clerk partner, inspect the site of my poll (with my partner), and then show up at least 45 minutes before the polls open to set up the site and welcome candidate representatives. Fifteen minutes before the polls open, I am to show the empty ballot box to the candidate representatives (scruitineers) present and then close and seal the box. Then the polls open and its showtime!
As Deputy Returning Officer, I am the only one allowed to handle the ballots as they're being counted. To help us along in the process, Elections Canada drafted a manual which is highly detailed but easy to understand (a triumph of government documentation). It walks us through everything we're expected to encounter, and even details what to do when certain out-of-the-ordinary situations crop up. A video presentation acted out some scenarios for us (such as when a candidate representative questions a elector's eligibility to vote).
The training conveyed the import of the process and just how much democracy depends on the hands-on activities of ordinary Canadians. I have a lot of work ahead of me in the next week, and especially on election day, but I'm looking forward to it.