Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is internet voting coming to a municipality near you?

Two City of Vancouver Councillors are pushing for the idea.

Markham, Ontario has used internet voting with their advanced polls since 2003. It has not been implemented on voting day because of concerns that the website might not handle a last minute voting surge. 2003 advanced polls were higher than previous years but, the same can not be said for 2006 and 2010 however, voter turnout is claimed to have been higher for those with accessibility issues and for those over the age of 50 (most likely because of time constraints associated with busy schedules). Unfortunately the youth vote turnout was apparently unchanged meaning it was still low.

Security was not considered anymore of an issue than banking online.

Personally unless I had an unusually busy schedule or was going to be away on voting day, I would still make my way to my local polling station, usually a recreation centre or school gym. There's something satisfying about approaching the 'alphabetical table', sometimes waiting in line, entering that cardboard booth enclave, and X'ing the ballot with that stubby lil' pencil.


Anonymous said...

Internet voting is a possiblity, but what of those that do not have an internet connection?

Anonymous said...

No internet connection?

1. Go vote at the polls;
2. Use the internet at the library;
3. Use your neighbour's, kid's, friend's internet;
4. Go to a internet cafe.

Obviously not a problem and a good option for a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

As long as there is still an option to place an actual ballot in the box it "could" work.

Anonymous said...

Empowered seniors send email and use the Internet. Young people on the other hand use email less, facebook and BBM more.

Anonymous said...

anon 6:27pm
Is facebook not an internet application?

Anonymous said...

Evoting includes internet and telephone voting, where it is the voters choice on how they vote. This was used in Ontario and in Nova Scotia.

Mocrael said...

I sure hope not! Internet voting could prove to be a danger to democracy. Food for a thought:

"Internet voting is risky due to its sociological and technological problems. Absentee balloting does not provide the safeguards of freedom from coercion and vote selling that are afforded via local precincts. Internet voting creates additional problems due to the inability of service providers to assure that websites are not spoofed, denial of service attacks do not occur, balloting is recorded accurately and anonymously, and votes are only cast by the authorized voter themself...
...if you are a voter living in a municipality that uses internet voting, request an absentee ballot prior to the election so that you can cast your vote on paper. That is the only way you can be assured that (a) your vote was submitted as you intended and (b) the ballot you prepared will be available for a manual recount." -Rebecca Mercuri, Electronic Voting.

Mocrael said...

Sorry, the last link didn't work properly. Click on "Mocrael for the working link to the whole "Electronic Voting" article.

Anonymous said...

..."Paranoia strikes deeps
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away..."

- Stephen Stills

Anonymous said...

Here’s a thought. The concern is no one comes out to vote, especially so at the municipal level. Observing some of the candidates it is easy to see why. To get the voter involved why doesn’t the city pass a silly bylaw that fine a person for not voting? Silly bylaws have been done in the past. Didn’t council pass a silly bylaw to create a market that will guarantee the survival of the LEC?

Anonymous said...

That is why we need a "None of the Above" box. Some on Council tend to get all puffy-headed thinking because the 17% odd voters,or less, actually voted for them it was of merit and that they are entitled to the vote? Baaah!

Most voters probably did their duty and plugged their noses while checking a box or two of the least worse candidate choices. DNV Council has become a little clique of late.
"This Council gets along so well
together"(LM's 2008 Muni-election comment)

Outsiders or naysayers are clearly not welcome. If you don't play the game, look out! Who can run against that kind of cliquish mentality? Even internet voting cannot battle DNV voter "apathy". The question of how can real change be initiated? Perhaps there needs to be two or three term limits for Mayor and Council.

Otherwise the same dogs keep coming back to haunt us.

Griffin said...

Why not have a couple of options to choose from. Send registered voters a card asking if they wish to vote in person or on-line. If they choose on-line, send them a password or code of some kind for internet voting. Then cut down on the number of polling stations to accommodate the number who still wish to vote in person. This doesn't have to be either/or.

Anonymous said...

I'd be happy for a "none of the above" option!

John Sharpe said...

I've long entertained the idea of a 'none of the above' option. It could send a strong message that the electorate really doesn't like the choices but, can't express them save not voting or spoiling the ballot both of which are not good options.

You have to ask yourself, what exactly would 8743 'none of the above' ballots in the 2011 District or City election actually accomplish except 6 councillors and a Mayor elected but, with fewer votes?

John Sharpe said...

Anon 1:48 PM,

"This Council gets along so well
together"(LM's 2008 Muni-election comment)

If in fact LM did say this, yes it definitely reeks of clique but, then in politics what else is new?

Being elected to District council would be a hard nut to crack. Seems once your in, your in. If a seat becomes vacant(maybe Roger Bassam?, your voice and message appealed, was very well known to the electorate, and to the incumbents, you might have a fighting chance.

Lyle Craver said...

At first I thought an Internet vote was horrible due to the security problem (as in 'how can you be sure someone will not hand over their voting card to their favorite candidate who will vote several hundred votes at the riding office?') but then I realized that the federal government does not require you to show ID to file your tax return and the legal penalties for abusing your tax return are considerably higher than the Canada Elections Act!

At the same time I do think that there is a social value in requiring an in-person vote and have twice served as a scrutineer.

In all my years of voting it has never taken me more than 15 minutes to cast my vote and you always talk to your neighbors while in the voting line so it's not an onerous burden.

Anonymous said...

I think that it's about choice. If we can attract additional voters by having an alternate method then let's do it.

Lots of apartment dwellers don't know their neighbours and could care less about standing in line at the polls but may very well take time over the web.

If I can bank securely over the web then I'm confident that there is secure technology for casting a single vote.

Anonymous said...

I'm biting a little late on this one...

Lisa Muri 5th Term
Doug Mackay-Dunn 3rd Term
Alan Nixon 3rd Term
Mike Little 2nd Term
Robin Hicks 2nd Term
Roger Bassam 1st Term

That looks like a good mix to me. If the whole council was 5 termers then I would say that it had become stale, but it looks like there has been some steady turnover and still some veterans.

Sam Shechter
Bill Denault
Heather Dunsford
and Trevor Carolan

are all incumbents that lost their seats in the last ten years, so the suggestion that its impossible to lose your seat is pure bogus.

Vigilantz said...

I'm with 'Mocrael', and to see what security experts have to say about electronic voting machines and internet voting, go to my blog at The potential benefits from using computer technology to perform our most important democratic duty/right are not nearly great enough to outweigh the significant risks involved.