An Update on Online Voting (Part Three)

June 5th, 2013 by Dan Allan

Several more jurisdictions in Canada and throughout the world are considering a switch to online voting. Here’s the latest news:

THUNDER BAY, ON

Thunder Bay, Ontario is exploring how online voting could function during their next civic election.  A motion to have a report prepared with more information on online voting was passed by council.

The NetNewsledger notes that online voting would reduce the number of ballots printed, which would be “environmentally positive.” Internet voting would also increase accessibility, as citizens would be able to vote from home.

MILTON, ON

City council in Milton, Ontario is not ready to implement online voting for the next municipal election in 2014. Council voted 6-5 to reject the proposal.

Milton Mayor Gord Krantz believes that the “paper ballot is sure to go the way of the dinosaur,” but is not comfortable implementing the technology without backing from the federal and provincial governments.

Councilors also expressed concerns over safety, security and necessity. Councilor Rick Malboeuf commented that “if someone can’t get off their butt to spend half an hour of their time vote every four years I don’t know if I want them involved in the decision making. I want the person voting for whoever to be informed and be committed to our system.”

TIMMINS, ON

Timmins, Ontario is considering internet voting as an alternative to their vote tabulation system.

City clerk Jack Watson is confident that the technology is safe, citing online banking as an example. Online voting is, however, more expensive. “It’s going to increase the cost of the election, but you’re providing a service to the community, you’re trying to give people more opportunity to vote,” said Watson.

Watson is quoted by the Timmins Press as saying that, “its anticipated there will be something around 80 municipalities using some form of Internet voting at the next election.”

AJAX, ON

City council in the Town of Ajax, Ontario endorsed recommendations by city staff to implement online voting in time for the 2014 civic election. Traditional voting with paper ballots has been eliminated, but seniors and others will be able to receive assistance at polling stations.

The Ajax News Advertiser notes that the report presented to councilors claims that internet voting is more convenient and accessible, as citizens can vote from home or wherever they are on election day. Online voting would be open for a week or more, so more people will have an opportunity to cast a ballot. Results would be available faster and more accurately.

CALIFORNIA

California State Assembly member Philip Y. Ting has authored legislation to “create a pathway” for online voting in the state. The legislation would allow counties to explore secure online voting systems to improve election day efficiency, increase voting awareness, and improving electoral participation. The bill was passed by the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee by a vote of 4 to 2.

Ting notes that “security issues must be fully addressed before online voting can be viable… But it is important to remember that no existing voting system is perfect.”

Voter turnout in some California municipalities is notoriously low. Voter turnout for this year’s Los Angeles mayoral and city council primary was only 16 per cent.

THE PHILIPPINES

The Philippines is considering online voting as a way to cast overseas absentee ballots. Voting methods for the remainder of the country would remain the same.

Absentee ballot turnout for the May 2013 election was only 15.35 per cent, compared to 26 per cent in 2010. There are 737,759 registered Filipinos living abroad.

Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. believes that internet voting could increase absentee ballot turnout by 60 to 70 per cent.

Is online voting being considered where you live? Let us know!

Dan

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4 Responses to “An Update on Online Voting (Part Three)”

  1. Chris Cates Says:
    June 5th, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Dan,

    It is true there are governments around the world looking at using the technology but that does not mean it is safe and secure. Our democracy is too important to risk the trial and error method of implementing this technology for use in our elections. I have a hard time understanding why our government bodies are so willing to outsource our elections to third-party private for-profit companies who have no accountability if there are problems with the election!

    Some internet voting advocates are always saying things like: internet voting has been used hundreds of times without problems, but these advocates have not done their homework. Problems happen all the time with internet and electronic voting.

    Take the recent election in France, for instance (http://ind.pn/17h0jvM). Here is an internet voting system that was dubbed “fraud-proof” and “ultra secure”, but on election day the system was breached, not by hackers, but by journalists! One can only imagine the turmoil that hackers would have been caused had they gotten their hands on it. Then again, maybe hackers did get into the system and weren’t detected. One can never really know.

    What are citizens going to do when technology fails like it did during the presidential elections in Kenya (http://n.pr/Y6vwLl). Biometric identification systems crashed, SMS-relay system became overloaded, and a technical glitch miscalculated the number of disqualified ballots. How did they survive this election? By resorting back to PAPER BALLOTS! Here is yet another example of election technology failing miserably!

    Let’s not forget about the NDP leadership election where thousands could not vote due to a DDoS cyber attack (http://bit.ly/GLFA3M). Or how about the University of Western Ontario whose election system was penetrated by a hacker during a student council election (http://bit.ly/17UBjpX). What about Boone County, Indiana where the eVoting system reported 144,000 votes in a county with fewer than 19,000 voters (http://onforb.es/11kK3mi).

    We don’t need to have our elections “modernized”. Internet and electronic voting is not the wave of the future. We need to keep our elections open and verifiable. We need an election system that allows for proper recounts and independent audits.

    We need to be able to trust the vote!

    Chris Cates, Computer Expert
    Web: http://countingthevote.ca
    Facebook: https://facebook.com/countingthevote
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/countingthevote

  2. CIVIX Says:
    June 5th, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks for this great comment, Chris!

    You’ve raised a lot of great examples.

    We are also concerned about the security related to internet voting. As a civic education charity, we are also concerned that internet voting does little to improve civic engagement and, ultimately, voter turnout.

    As Milton Councilor Rick Malboeuf said, “if someone can’t get off their butt to spend half an hour of their time vote every four years I don’t know if I want them involved in the decision making. I want the person voting for whoever to be informed and be committed to our system.”

    We will definitely be curious to see how turnout and engagement is affected in places that make the switch.

    Dan

  3. An Update on Online Voting (Part Four) | CIVIX Says:
    August 20th, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    […] Part 3 – June 5, 2013 […]

  4. Weekly Round-Up: May 23, 2014 | CIVIX Says:
    May 23rd, 2014 at 8:51 am

    […] Katie attended a presentation at Ajax City Hall about online voting for this fall’s municipal election and their “Bring on the Vote” campaign. There were also presentations from the Internet Voting Project and Intelivote (who is running the online vote for Ajax). We’ve written a series of blogs on online voting in Canada, including Ajax. […]

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