Remember how well it went when the Ontario PC’s used it to select Doug Ford as their leader? Remember how Canada Post admitted that thousands of PINS and Ballots were not delivered so party members couldn’t vote? Consider that in the 2018 municipal elections across Ontario, as more municipalities will be conducting their elections by Internet and phone only – NO PAPER BALLOTS.
In 2014 sixty-one municipalities in Ontario went to paperless balloting. Another 36 used a combination of electronic and paper ballots. Almost 25% of Ontario municipalities embraced the future of voting. There are several reasons for dumping the paper ballot, one was that it would increase voter turnout. Did it? The Internet Voting Project hopes to be able to answer some questions on eVoting. The project tracked the results of the 97 municipalities that took part in the eVoting in the 2014 elections. In 2018 there will be more municipalities joining in on the age of Internet voting.
The Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) has been monitoring the voter turnout in municipal elections. The 2014 voter turnout average (AMO 2014 Voter Turnout) was 43.12%. The winner with the highest turnout of 86.63% was Latchford ON and Pembroke ON scored lowest at 15.81%. In 2006 turnout was 44.35%, looking back to 1982* had 48% voter turnout – its been going down hill since then. 1997 and 2003 own a low 40% voter turning average AMO Voter turnout .
In 2014 the Town of Leamington went Internet voting only, it was the first municipality in Ontario to do so, effectively dumping mail in ballots used in the previous election. That election in Leamington there was no phone voting and not a ballot box to be found. In 2014 election voter turnout saw a 42% of eligible voters casting a ballot through their keyboards, down from the 50% voter turnout in previous elections – not what was expected. A larger concern though was a delay in the results being announced. Candidates had to wait 2.5 hours for their results, 2 hours longer than expected or promised by the vendor. The City of Leamington expects to have that issue resolved for October 22nd. Perhaps, in response to the unexpected lower turnout, the city is offering phone voting along with Internet voting to its residents in 2018.
Even with the issues of the 2014 election in Leamington, a 2015 survey (Online Voting Survey) reported that 98% of municipal voters would vote online again. The survey also indicated that as many as 95% of voters wanted other elections to offer online voting. Looking back at what happened with the Ontario PC Leadership voting is that going to happen? If Canada Post couldn’t get the needed PINS and other information to every PC Party member how realistic to suggest that Canada Post would be able to meet the demands of a larger number of voters relying on the delivery of their PINS by snail mail? As much as Canadians want they want Internet voting, Canadians want to know there voting system is secure. If it isn’t secure, they won’t vote.
Is the solution that if you’re going vote using your computer, it should be natural to receive a ballot PIN by email? Would voters feel secure enough to receive this important information via the Internet? Will suggested meddling in elections by countries outside of Canada be enough to pull the Ethernet cord on that idea?
Can governments gain the enough trust of the voters to consider dumping the paper ballot?
While municipally, the fate of the paper ballot is pretty well sealed, it will be a slow fade for the “marking of an X” in larger elections until governments can give the 100% guarantee that no meddling will occur. Based on what we’ve heard recently from Facebook about foreign influence affecting the US 2018 mid-term elections it appears voting screens and ballot boxes are still going to be around for some time.
It’s important to keep in mind that the reason for the in use of eVoting was to increase voter turnout, make it easier to vote. Does making it easier to vote meangreater voter engagement? All eVoting will do and was meant to do was make it easier to vote. It doesn’t facilitate engagement; people need to facilitate political engagement.
You want to have an increase of voter turnout? Increase true political engagement. That doesn’t mean catchy slogans about the weather and it doesn’t mean throwing mud at political opponents. Making it easy to vote is one thing making it easy to give Canadians a reason to vote is something completely different.
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