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Province backs online voting trials

 

 
 
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Elections B.C. wants permission to run pilot projects on online voting and other new technologies, chief electoral officer Keith Archer said in a report tabled in the legislature.
 

Elections B.C. wants permission to run pilot projects on online voting and other new technologies, chief electoral officer Keith Archer said in a report tabled in the legislature.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam, Victoria Times Colonist, November 2011

B.C. could soon be testing Internet voting after a formal request to try the idea received a verbal endorsement from the provincial government Monday.

Elections B.C. wants permission to run pilot projects on online voting and other new technologies, chief electoral officer Keith Archer said in a report tabled in the legislature.

The independent elections agency wants the freedom to try new technologies and look at security issues, Archer said.

"We want to have the mandate to at least have the exploration of this topic," he said.

Elections B.C. released a discussion paper on the subject in September, concluding Internet voting could make it more convenient but also presents more security risks than in-person voting.

"I love the idea," said Attorney General Shirley Bond, who would be responsible for amending the Elections Act to accommodate Archer's wishes.

"I'm currently working on how we will put in place an expert panel that will look at online voting in British Columbia."

Premier Christy Clark has also expressed support, said Bond, but the technology chosen needs to be safe and secure.

"We simply have to look at the elections that took place over the weekend, and need to make sure we're looking at how we get our participation numbers up," said Bond.

Province-wide turnout for municipal elections Saturday was 29.51 per cent of eligible voters, compared with 23 per cent in 2008.

Langford posted the worst participation rate in B.C. with 13.98 per cent. Esquimalt was close behind at 17.99 per cent.

Online voting changes proposed by Elections B.C. would apply only to provincial elections.

But several municipalities have asked the government for permission to use Internet voting locally, and the minister responsible, Ida Chong, said Monday "there's an appetite" to look at granting such requests in the future.

Voter turnout in provincial elections may be higher than the municipal rate but it has also been steadily falling.

Participation among 18- to 24-year-olds is the worst, with only 27 per cent of eligible youth voters casting ballots in the 2009 provincial general election.

Elections B.C. has also asked government for permission to pre-register 16- and 17-year-olds to the official voters list so they are automatically eligible to vote provincially when they turn 18. Archer said he hopes that would coincide with civics classes.

"On the surface I like the idea," said Bond.

But there was little talk about lowering the voting age.

Health Minister Mike de Jong proposed, during the Liberal party leadership race this year, lowering the voting age to 16.

He said Monday the idea remains "a little more adventurous" than some MLAs may be comfortable with, but something has to be done. Declining voter turnout is "very troubling" and de Jong said he's pleased to see Elections B.C. trying to address it.

Bond said she's not sure whether lowering the voting age is a good idea.

rfshaw@timescolonist.com

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Elections B.C. wants permission to run pilot projects on online voting and other new technologies, chief electoral officer Keith Archer said in a report tabled in the legislature.
 

Elections B.C. wants permission to run pilot projects on online voting and other new technologies, chief electoral officer Keith Archer said in a report tabled in the legislature.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam, Victoria Times Colonist, November 2011

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Rob Weber

9:33 AM on 11/30/2011

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Canada is leaving US in the dust regarding voting. While some of the dogmatic opposition to online voting that exists in the US is evident, it is not as entrenched.

Anyone that tells you that keeping data safe, verifiable, or transparent is easier with paper-based systems than with digital ones is either ignorant or lying to you.

We can trade stock, do banking,e -commerce, and even keep track of all the planes in the air online but can't vote?

Some say voting is "different".
Here's how the vote is different: Voting is our most fundamental RIGHT. Elections should be as easy as possible for voters to particpate in.

Claims that critics make about online voting are more apt to the paper based systems they defend: Paper voting isn't secure. Paper voting isn't particularly "verifiable" (Remember the hanging chad?).

Keep forging on, Canada! Every time you have an online election, we add more proof that online voting SIGNIFICANTLY increases turnout.

Rob Weber
CyberTheVote


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5:24 AM on 11/24/2011

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AJHO

1:01 PM on 11/23/2011

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Dennis - just because something has been done, it doesn't mean it's safe. With control over a $40 billion per year budget at stake, is it really so inconceivable that someone within a private election company could be bribed to alter software? (especially given that our current single member plurality voting system is so sensitive to changes in voting results in swing ridings - in the last election, if I remember correctly, the NDP were only about 1200 votes away from a majority government; changes that small in vote counts in a few key swing ridings could be made without altering the popular vote percentages by more than a tenth of a percent in those ridings - this would be well within the margin of error of any poll that might have been done, so the alteration would be statistically undetectable).


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Dennis Brady

5:30 PM on 11/22/2011

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All those naysayers claiming online voting can't be made safe and secure should explain that to the Swiss who've been voting online for the past 13 years.


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AJHO

4:52 PM on 11/22/2011

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I encourage people to check out Fair Voting BC's stand on e-voting (see http://fairvotingbc.com/2011/05/04/fair-voting-bc-cautions-vancouver-on-e-voting-proposal). Basically, we support the goals behind e-voting (increasing participation), but do not believe online voting can be made acceptably secure in the foreseeable future:

"With today's online voting systems, you send your vote into the ether", said Jim DeLaHunt, a director with Fair Voting BC and a computer scientist with 25 years experience. "With no paper ballot, there's no way to check that the system recorded your vote properly."

"The principle of a secret ballot is also at risk. Voting is not like online banking," said DeLaHunt. "With online banking, your transactions are secure but not secret. You can see that your bank processed them properly. But with voting, neither the government nor the software providers should know how you voted."


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rufus7

11:21 AM on 11/22/2011

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If we can do our banking online securely then surely we can vote on line.


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anon312166114

12:59 AM on 11/22/2011

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Premier Christy Clark has also expressed support, said Bond, but the technology chosen needs to be safe and secure.

Yeah it needs to be safe and secure from this corrupt government! You won't have me voting online, not unless it's another country counting these votes! People don't vote anymore because it's shitier vs shitier and 4yrs. from now we'll be voting for plants! Promises and more promises, backstabbing and no accountability! Who cares anymore, you'll do whatever you want to do anyways, dictatorship it's an epidemic! Just ask Harper, didn't he tell Christy NOT to call an election? Just open the immigration doors, the country isn't full yet! People are fed-up and don't care anymore, provincially or municipally. People want change, DO YOU CARE?


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