Bishops, voting and electronic ballots

The change in the U.S. bishops’ leadership, which resulted in the election of Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York to be their president Nov. 16, took a matter of minutes, thanks to electronic voting.

But the election nearly had to be conducted the old-fashioned way — with paper  ballots.  A glitch in the system had kept the results of a test vote from appearing on an overhead projector screen in the front of the bishops’ meeting room. Without the results being visible to all, paper balloting would have ensued, with newly ordained bishops acting as tellers and counting each ballot submitted. However, after a technical fix, the test ballot finally went through without a hitch.

So did a second test ballot, on whether the bishops would play a round of golf sometime between now and the end of the year.  The results: 25 yes, 207 no. To laughter from the assembly, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, the outgoing president of the bishops, noted dryly, “That vote signals the end of the clerical culture.”

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