Online voting no quick fix for turnout

Even if technical issues can be solved for all computers and phones, Internet voting doesn't attract more young people

Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer

VICTORIA – B.C. isn’t ready to consider a wholesale shift to Internet-base voting in either local or provincial elections, according to a new report from Elections B.C.

Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer released the report Wednesday, warning that even if a host of technical and security issues can be resolved, there is no consistent evidence that voter turnout would be increased.

Archer asked the B.C. government in 2011 for authority to conduct pilot projects for electronic voting. The government appointed him to chair an expert panel last year, and its preliminary findings are not encouraging.

While there are likely benefits for voters with disabilities or in remote locations, the report concludes that governments should not expect either lower costs or greater participation from voter access via computers and mobile devices.

Despite the widespread use of new technology by young people, a survey of other results showed middle-aged and older people more likely to use online voting.

The committee recommends that online voting be considered first as an option for people with access restrictions, such as those who vote by mail. It says universal voting should only be be attempted on a province-wide basis for consistency, security and ability to audit results.

No provincial or federal voting has been conducted online in Canada, but municipalities including Halifax and Markham, Ontario have tried it, as well as some U.S. and European jurisdictions.

Archer said online voting has unique challenges, such as the need to verify a person’s identity and then keep that separate from their voting choice. Another issue is how to verify security of a range of computers, tablets and mobile phones that could be subject to software tampering.

“It’s not like banking online, it’s not like dating online, it’s not like making a purchase online,” he said.

The panel has posted its preliminary report here and is seeking public comments until Dec. 4. It plans to make recommendations to the government on the next steps in February.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Young deckhands backed out of fatal Arctic Fox II trip just before fishboat departed

Inexperienced twin brothers had ‘gut feeling’ and bailed before going to open ocean

VIDEO: Seal pup and mom play and ‘kiss’ in Oak Bay Marina

BRNKL seal cam captures harbour seal growing up in busy harbour

Police investigating alleged assault on Oak Bay Avenue

Staff at Oak Bay Home Hardware say one person was taken to hospital

Oak Bay neighbourhoods rocked by blasting activity

Oak Bay seeks new rock blasting bylaw regarding ‘continuous’ noise

Greater Victoria hardly making a dent in greenhouse gas emissions target

One-per-cent drop from 2007 to 2018 a far cry from the 33-per-cent goal for 2020

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read