An Update on Online Voting (Part Four)

August 15th, 2013 by Katie Reidel

Here’s the latest news on jurisdictions across Canada that are discussing internet voting for future elections:

NO to Online Voting

Newfoundland and Labrador

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador will be heading to the polls this fall for a municipal election, but they won’t be voting online. Minister of Municipal Affairs Kevin O’Brien thinks it is better to have 30 per cent of the community turn out who have a true interest in their city than large numbers of uninformed voters who vote online just because they can.

East Gwillimbury, Ontario

Councillors in East Gwillimbury voted against implementing online voting for the 2014 municipal election. Some councillors who voted against the proposal were disappointed that it only planned for online voting in advanced polls, not on election day. A paperless election may still be in East Gwillimbury’s future.

Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ontario

Online voting is not recommended by Stouffville council, who are instead opting to go with optical scan tabulators. These machines can identify if a voter has over- or under-voted, and give them the opportunity to amend their ballot. These machines were used in 2010 and their familiarity to the public is one of the key points in keeping them for 2014.

 

YES to Online Voting

Kingsville, Ontario

The town of Kingsville is considering using online voting for the next municipal election in 2014. CBC reports that Mayor Nelson Santos and council are considering moving to online voting or voting by telephone. “By looking at internet voting [and] voting by telephone from home, we’re looking to see if there are any concerns or hurdles that our residents would have, or any reservations about going to that type of process,” Santos said.

Springwater, Ontario

According to Bayshore Broadcasting, voters in Springwater will be able to vote either in person, by telephone or on the Internet in the municipal election in October of 2014. This article also points out that online voting extends to tablets, smartphones, and even gaming devices such as the Xbox and Wii!

Central Huron, Ontario

Huron News Now reports that Central Huron residents will have the option of voting by internet or telephone in the 2014 municipal election, following a decision by council in July. The municipalities deputy reeve Dave Jewitt lamented that this might be the downfall of the traditional style polling station, but that the town won’t know online voting’s possibilities or successes unless they try it. Central Huron is trying to boost a dismal turnout in the last election of 37.78 per cent.

Guelph, Ontario

The community that was hardest hit by the robo-calls of 2011 has committed to online voting for the 2014 municipal election. Guelph council passed an initiative that will allow for online voting during advance polling in 2014, the success of which will determine if it becomes full-scale in 2018.

West Perth, Ontario

Voters in West Perth will only be able to vote online or by phone in the 2014 municipal election, as the paper ballot disappears from the municipality completely. Clerk Florence Stalenhoef believes that if the municipality doesn’t voluntarily take this project on in 2014, they will be forced to do so in 2018.

Leamington, Ontario

Leamington is considering online voting for the 2014 municipal election. As other municipalities have already tested this process before Leamington, Clerk Brian Sweet believes that many of the problems with the process have been worked out, according to Blackburn News. The process is expected to be cheaper than paper ballots, and online stations will be set-up for the public to use.

 

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

 

Check out the earlier articles in this series:

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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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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

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An update on online voting across Canada

February 6th, 2013 by Dan Allan

Several Canadian municipalities are considering the implementation of online voting. Here’s an update:

Edmonton and St. Albert, AB

A new report recommends that Edmonton should implement online voting for their fall municipal election. St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse believes that his city could also bring in the new technology.

Edmonton conducted an online voting experiment last fall where residents were asked to vote for their favourite jelly bean flavour. More than 1,000 people registered, and the system proved to be secure in the face of several planned and unplanned hacking attempts.

In an exit survey, 77 per cent of participants said they had high to very high confidence in the system’s security. 91 per cent said they would be likely to vote online in a real election.

However, an Edmonton council committee heard from a number of citizens with concerns about the safety of online voting on January 28. Edmonton council voted against the use of online voting on February 6. St. Albert also announced that they would no longer pursue online voting.

Airdrie, AB

Airdrie city council was presented with information about the possible use of the same online voting system currently being piloted in Edmonton and St. Albert for their 2013 municipal elections.

56 per cent of Airdrie’s 2012 census results were completed online, so manager of legislative services Sharon Pollyck believes online voting is an avenue worth pursuing to increase turnout.

Council members had questions about issues of security, voter fraud, spoiled ballots, the costs of online voting and the possible exclusion of some voters.

Some aldermen saw the “value” of online voting, but others “lamented the possible loss of traditional voting.” Council decided to table the proposal until more information related to their concerns was available.

On February 4, Airdrie council approved the use of online voting in the October 21 municipal elections.

Sudbury, ON

Voters in Sudbury voters will be able to vote online during next year’s municipal elections. However, the online vote will be restricted to advanced polls.

Under the proposed change, voters would receive a PIN in the mail. One activated online, it can only be used once.

Councilor Frances Caldarelli is “extremely excited” about the plan, noting that she sees it “as a way to increase the number of young people voting.”

Cambridge, ON

Cambridge approved two new voting methods for the 2014 municipal elections. Residents will now be able to vote by phone and online.

Noting the success in Halifax, City Clerk Alex Mitchell notes that online voting, “would result in no spoiled ballots, reduce the need for neighbourhood polling stations, staffing and the need for scrutineers.”

Mitchell also noted that online voting would not increase voter turnout, “it will only make it more convenient for existing voters.”

Kitchener, ON

Kitchener will not hold an online vote for the 2014 municipal election after councilors received an extremely critical report on online voting.

After 18 months of study, councilors were told that online voting does not increase participation in elections. However, online voting increases costs, reduces transparency and is vulnerable to coercion and fraud.

In particular, concern was expressed regarding how one member of a family could vote on everyone’s behalf and how no “paper trail” was left behind in case a recount was required.

Kitchener will explore other ways to increase engagement. Only 25 per cent of eligible Kitchener voters cast a ballot in 2010.

Waterloo, ON

Waterloo is investigating the use of telephone and online voting for their 2014 municipal elections and is seeking proposals from online voting companies.

Councilor Jeff Henry grew up in Markham, a city that has used online voting for several years. He is skeptical of the safety involved in an online vote.

Alternatively, Councilor Karen Scian argued in favour of the online vote, noting that it had the potential to engage more citizens by making it easier to vote.

Further Reading

  • The University of Western Ontario used online voting for their University Students’ Council (USC) presidential election last February. The system was hacked, and the results were declared null and void.
  • The NDP used online voting for their leadership convention last March. A “cyber attack” slowed down the voting system and delayed voting for several hours.
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia used online voting during their municipal election last October. 22 per cent of voters cast their ballots online, and there were no reports or allegations of online voting malfunction or fraud.
  • British Columbia had been considering online voting for future provincial and municipal elections.
  • The city of Markham, Ontario has successfully used online voting to improve their voter turnout.

Dan

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