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.”


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.


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.


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!


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11 Responses to “An Update on Online Voting (Part Two)”

  1. William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. Says:
    May 3rd, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Nice work, Dan!!

    Internet voting could be coming to California. A bill to allow counties to try it was recently passed out of commitee (4-3). That’s about it for the US. (4-3, not 4-2)

    William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
    Twitter: wjkno1
    Author: Internet Voting Now!

  2. CIVIX Says:
    May 4th, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Thanks, William!

    Online voting is also an interest of ours, but I must admit that our organization has been skeptical of its safety.

    Thanks for the update on the situation in California. I’m sure we’ll write a Part 3 to this blog, and we will include California (and maybe even reach out to you for an interview?)

    Have a great weekend,


  3. William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. Says:
    May 4th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Dan! On my blog I’ve got tons of good stuff showing that if Internet voting systems are professionally constructed they can fend off every kind of attack. Its been done about 100 times around the world w/o problems.
    Love to talk!
    William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
    Twitter: wjkno1
    Author: Internet Voting Now!

  4. CIVIX Says:
    May 5th, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Hi, William.

    I’ll take a look through your blog, and will get in touch when we are writing our next online voting blog!


  5. Chris Cates Says:
    May 6th, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Internet voting has never been PROVEN to be a secure means of voting. The technology has never been properly tested and various electronic voting systems have been hacked numerous times. Do a google search on Diebold or watch the documentary film, Hacking Democracy. Look into the Washington D.C. hack, or the March 2012 NDP leadership election, or the 2013 Kenya election where officials had to resort to paper ballots!

    All e-voting companies claim to have the most secure system in the world but they make these claims when secure government networks and financial institutions continue to be penetrated by hackers, viruses, etc.

    Electronic voting systems removes transparency in the voting process, because there is no means to perform a proper recount or conduct an independent audit. The only auditable data is the information provided by the e-voting system and only serves to reinforce their original election results.

    As one of the primary protestors against the use of internet voting in Edmonton and Alberta, I argued the facts about how internet voting cannot be trusted in elections. City councilors and Minister Griffiths agreed by striking down internet voting.

    Digital information can be changed at any time, by anyone, without anyone ever knowing. Virtual ballot boxes can be stuffed, or switched without leaving any trace. Elections can be sold to the highest bidder, or fall victim to a simple programming error which cause erroneous results. Electronic voting, in any form, destroys democracy and cannot be trusted.

    We need to be able to trust the vote!

    Chris Cates, Computer Expert

  6. CIVIX Says:
    May 7th, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the comment!

    We have also been critical of the safety of online voting, and the risk of vote coercion.

    However, we do think that it’s an important debate that is worth having. Any discussion over how to improve voter turnout is worthwhile.

    Maybe we will speak to both yourself and Mr. Kelleher, and gauge your opposing opinions on this subject!


  7. Chris Cates Says:
    May 7th, 2013 at 1:24 pm


    Voter apathy in Canada is not caused by inconvenience of using paper ballots in elections. Voter apathy is caused by people feeling their vote doesn’t have any impact on the election. Politicians promise solutions to every problem so long as they are elected. After they are elected they simply tow the party line and vote however the party leader tells them, even if all citizens in the MP’s riding are adamantly opposed to the legislation. If an MP stands up for the citizens in their riding and speaks out against the party, they are quickly dealt with and silenced. This is NOT democracy! Canada’s parliamentary system is outdated and broken. If we are to engage voters in elections we need to reform government to a system that works to serve the citizens.

    As the staff report from the city of Kitchener proves, internet voting does not increase voter turn out. In the 18-month study of internet voting used in Markham, Peterborough and Burlington online voting was found to only marginally increase voter participation, yet dramatically increase voter costs. You can find the Kitchener staff report here: Kitchener rejected using internet voting citing security and costs as their primary concerns.

    I would be happy to speak with you and debate with Mr. Kelleher the various points of internet voting as to why it cannot be trusted. For more information and useful facts about the risks associated with internet voting you may want to read the open letter I wrote to Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister, Doug Griffiths, which aided in putting a stop to the use of internet voting in Alberta. You can find the letter here: My website, is also filled with more factual information.

    We need to be able to trust the vote!

    Chris Cates, Computer Expert

  8. Rob Says:
    June 3rd, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    You may find this video showing the results of my access to information investigation into the security of the online voting in the recent Halifax elections interesting.

  9. CIVIX Says:
    June 3rd, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing this video with us, Rob!


  10. 2013 Municipal Elections in Newfoundland & Labrador and Alberta | CIVIX Says:
    June 12th, 2013 at 10:55 am

    […] to limit the distraction to drivers. And several Alberta municipalities have given consideration to online voting, which we have covered extensively in our […]

  11. An Update on Online Voting (Part Four) | CIVIX Says:
    August 20th, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    […] Part 2 – April 30, 2013 […]

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