Chicago City Council unanimously passes electronic voting resolution
CHICAGO - The Chicago City Council unanimously passed a historic resolution Wednesday that will allow for electronic voting in council chambers.
The resolution was introduced by City Clerk Anna Valencia, Alderwoman Michelle Harris, and Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot as part of an initiative that aims to streamline the current legislative management system – creating a more efficient and effective council process.
"This is a historic day for Chicago’s City Council," Valencia said. "This is the first step towards our larger goal of creating a more efficient and accessible City Council. EVoting will not only benefit the members themselves; it will also give Chicagoans a clearer understanding of how their government works."
According to a news release from Valencia's office, the clerk's entire Council Modernization initiative is broken into three phases, eVoting, to streamline the current voting process, being the first. The first phase will also include digital co-sponsorship and digital submission and tracking of legislation. Phase two will focus on moving the more paper-heavy committees, paperless and improving departmental data sharing. Lastly, phase three will include implementing language and ADA access and real-time eVoting for all committees.
According to the release, this resolution achieves two things; it grants Aldermen the ability to electronically vote in Council Chambers, and the second piece establishes a set of guidelines when electronically voting.
"Electronic voting is a fast, sustainable and accessible solution to the challenges presented by traditional, paper-heavy voting methods," Lightfoot said. "By implementing this voting method for City Council, we will be able to bring more efficiency and transparency to council processes. I commend Clerk Valencia on this huge step forward in modernizing and streamlining City Council procedures."
Valencia said she started this work in 2017 when her office convened a diverse group of individuals to gather feedback on how to improve the function, accessibility and transparency of the City Council process. The group included aldermen, representatives from the mayor’s office and various city departments. Additionally, the efforts also included an external Advisory Council made up of academic and community stakeholders.
According to Valencia, after securing Electronic Knowledge Interchange (EKI) as the vendor, the groups worked collaboratively to bring eVoting to Chicago for the first time in the city’s history.
"It is an honor to co-sponsor this resolution with Clerk Valencia," said Harris, Chairman of the Committee on Committees and Rules. "EVoting transforms the way we work as a legislative body and is a significant step toward modernizing Chicago's City Council. I look forward to continuing this collaboration as we work to streamline the council process."
EVoting is anticipated to take effect March 2022 in Council Chambers.