Thursday, August 18, 2011

Should Canada Have Internet Voting?

Today's poll question; should Elections Canada adopt Internet voting in federal elections? That option is currently being explored as a means of increasing voter participation while also allowing them to scrap the publication ban on early election results. Ironically, the most recent election saw CBC Newsworld break the publication ban on early results, showing footage of Atlantic Canada results well before the polls closed in Vancouver. Rather than enforce a penalty, it looks like Elections Canada is just going to change the rules. On May 2nd 2011, I sat in my living room in Vancouver and saw results that looked very encouraging for the Liberal Party hours before my local polling station closed. Then after a few minutes the screen went blank. When the clock finally did strike 7pm, I tuned back in to see the Liberals throttled.

Logistically I'm not a fan of Internet voting because it makes electoral fraud substantially easier and you can't verify the identity of the person doing the voting. At polling stations, Elections Canada requires you to prove that you are who you are supposed to be. That's not logistically possible with Internet voting. It is a bad idea, and I'm not exactly sure why Elections Canada is considering online elections. Do they want to turn our federal elections into Canadian Idol?


  1. Damn stupid idea. Doing something to recognize the 21st century — undoing the "silence, peasant" rule — is a good one, but online voting isn't.

  2. Elections, not just in Canada, but in every country should be conducted solely on the internet. None of this registering and standing in line, pencil and paper nonsense --that's for Luddites.

    In fact, a truly democratic election could be run solely on Facebook, using nothing more than the 'like' button. That way you could see which way the wind was blowing, how your friends were voting, and what way super-cool informed celebrities were marking their ballot. Wave of the future my friends.

    Yeah. I think that rather than make it easier to vote, we should make it harder. I'd be in favour of having to score 90% on a 50-question multiple choice exam, for example, not unlike the citizenship exam. Or, to go one better, if someone fails to vote in an election you make it so they are not eligible to vote in the subsequent one.

    I once drove 300km from an oil rig to my voting station and then turned around and drove back to work for my morning shift. I did so in the safest Tory seat in the country. People than whine about how tough it is to vote are just upset that their side lost.

  3. No bloody way!

    This is a bad idea all around. This would undoubtedly lead to the corruption of democracy.

    Not only do I not trust Elections Canada, I also wouldn't trust their ability to stop the system from being corrupted by other powerful interests.

    Who would want our government or a foreign government or corporation or a Soros type schemer to decide who wins Canada’s elections? If you make it easy for them, they’ll do it in a heartbeat.

    We must leave the electoral system as is. Period!

  4. Good one James! That cracked me up. Facebook Elections...shhhhh...don't give them any ideas!

  5. Notice the ones who always advocate to make it "easier" to vote. Telephone voting, internet voting, mail in ballots, no picture id required are all tools that enable cheating.

  6. If the goal is to make voting fraud easier, then it is a great idea. Even the present system needs to be revised to end this starting with a most basic requirement that the voter is identifyable without face covering.

    If people do not want to take the time to vote in person, then I suggest they should not be voting in the first place.

  7. It would help me because I have 3 medical issues and i also have the old Red&White health card with no photo ID. I misplaced my Drivers license but didn't replace it yet because I don't drive.

    Besides, Olivia Chow and David Miller wanted voting Rights for tourists and non-citizens , so why have any rules is people like the Tamil tiger supporters can rig an election with Tourism-Votes to have a few 1000's come here just to elect their Pro-terrorist MPP or MP.
    Any one of the 6.5 billion non-citizens outside of canada is covered by our Charter to come here and make a "refugee" claim for all the rights of Citizens except for voting. But Miller and Chow will fix that for them along with the Toronto STAR writer that also endorses the Vote for anyone on candian soil that pays some form of tax.

  8. Elections Canada like the idea because it would allow them to select the winner of the "Election"

  9. It won't be Elections Canada that decides. Elections Canada has to implement the Elections Act as enacted by the House of Commons.

    The House of Commons has to authorize the Chief Electoral Officer to conduct e-voting. The Commons has already authorized a pilot project to do so in a by-election, as I understand it.

    After sitting through the seminar at Carleton U a year and a bit back, I remain a sceptic about how both the privacy of the balloting process and the scrutin-ability could be maintained simultaneously in an electronic system in Canada. It's done in Estonia, but every citizen there has an electronic ID card that governs all their interactions with government, leaving a personal trail of their digital lives that would undoubtedly be wholly unacceptable to Canadians -- on the right or left.

    Interestingly, the introduction of e-voting in a number of European jurisdictions did not increase turnout amongst young people, but was adopted primarily by those who were already most likely to vote.

    That said, electronic voting would be as or more secure and private than the current federal system for Special Voting Rules (e.g., for the military, people working overseas, and students and others away from home on E-Day), so I don't see the harm in testing it out in those cases. In particular, the DND or Foreign Affairs IT networks are already sufficiently secure, and could be used for the pilot project. This was tested through the DoD in the U.S. already as well.

    I do think we need to build some experience with electronic voting. Perhaps it's not right for federal election balloting, but could be used by political parties for leadership campaigns or other direct democracy initiatives, for e.g. So I'm not against a pilot project. Not every pilot project is successful, but they are learning experiences (e.g., the device they tested to enable private voting for the disabled in the Winnipeg North by-election was deemed a failure, but at least now they know).

    But we can't be naive about the potential risks to our political process. With the Chinese allegedly hacking into our government computer systems, it's clear that there are those who might seek to influence an outcome like that; never mind the risk of individual voters being coerced by people close to them.

  10. Anonymous @ 10:57 AM, maybe you can get a mail-in ballot?

    Please note item 2 in that link:
    "The Special Voting Rules apply to the following categories of electors: ...
    2. Canadian electors in their electoral districts who cannot or do not wish to go to an ordinary or advance poll to vote."
    -- Gabby in QC