An Update on Online Voting (Part Two)

April 30th, 2013 by Dan Allan

We have previously written about the debate over online voting in municipalities across Canada. Cities like Sudbury and Cambridge will be able to vote online during their next municipal elections. Edmonton and St. Albert have rejected online voting. Waterloo is still investigating how online voting could be implemented.

Here’s a rundown of some recent online voting news:

East Gwillimbury, ON

East Gwillimbury, Ontario is exploring whether online voting could help improve their voter turnout. City council is currently investigating whether phone and internet voting should be added in time for next year’s municipal election. Only 37 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2010 election.

Wasaga Beach, ON

Wasaga Beach, Ontario is also considering whether to implement internet and phone voting for the next municipal election. Online and phone voting would replace the touch screen voting terminals used in the last two elections, if approved by council. Only 27 per cent of voters cast ballots in 2010. 31 per cent of voters cast ballots in 2006.

Wasaga Beach had problems with long lines at polling stations on election day in 2010, and town clerk Twlya Nicholson believes that internet voting could help solve these issues in the future. Voters would be mailed a pin number they would use to cast their ballot online. Traditional voting stations would still be made available.

Vaughan, ON

The city council in Vaughan, Ontario is currently debating whether online voting could be considered for future elections. Online voting would be used in next year’s elections, and there are concern over the cost of implementing an online voting system and whether it would crash if a large number of electors tried to access the system at one time. Alternatively, council has also discussed spreading election day over multiple days, to ease congestion at polling stations and making voting more convenient.

Huntsville, ON

Huntsville, Ontario has decided to “scrap” the electronic voting system used during the 2010 municipal election due to concerns over hacking. During the last election, the server used by the voting system was “overburdened,” preventing some voters from casting ballots. Huntsville will return to using traditional paper ballots.

Calgary, AB

Calgary, Alberta won’t be voting online this October, but the idea is receiving “growing attention” at city hall. There are still concerns over voter fraud and coercion, but returning officer Barb Clifford thinks that “the technology and the security has taken some major leaps forward.”

Alberta

The government of Alberta has withdrawn its support from the idea of online voting. Edmonton, St. Albert, Airdrie and Strathcona County had been considering online voting, but Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths announced that they would not financially support online voting. Griffiths is unsure about the reliability of the voting technology.

Strathcona County is still considering a mock election this fall where high school students will test the system.

Canada

Postmedia News reported that budget cuts at Elections Canada have “pushed a pilot project on Internet voting off the agenda indefinitely.” According to the article, Elections Canada had hoped to introduce online voting for by-elections beginning in 2013 in an attempt to see if it would increase turnout.

Federal Liberal Leadership

Justin Trudeau was selected as the leader of the federal Liberal party on April 14. The leadership vote took place online and by phone between April 7 and April 14 using a preferential ballot. 104,552 ballots were cast from all 308 federal electoral districts. The process was initially complicated by more than 1,000 voters who could not get the system to accept their date of birth.

Latvia

Not directly related to online voting, but still worth noting:

A Latvian website has been created that allows citizens to provide input on the legislation considered by their Parliament.  ManaBalss, which translates to “My Voice,” allows citizens to propose initiatives and submit petitions. Any initiative that gathers 10,000 signatures must be taken up by Parliament.

The website allows signatures to be gathered online, where they are verified using similar technology to online banking. Two ideas proposed on the site have already become law, and two are currently being debated.

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

Dan

Posted in News, Online Voting |

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