At this week’s General Committee meeting, Council had before it a report that spoke to the upcoming 2018 municipal election and potential changes to voting processes; specifically, a recommendation from staff and the Governance Review Committee for the Town to introduce internet voting for the 2018 municipal election. Personally, I think that the introduction of internet voting would be a great step forward and would bring Aurora in line with what other municipalities – such as Markham – are doing. Historically, municipal elections have the lowest turnout (2014 was 33%) of voters. By introducing web based voting methods there is an opportunity to increase voter turnout by improving accessibility, efficiency and ease of use of voting processes. Many aspects of our daily lives are now web-based – banking, filing our taxes to name just a few – to make things easier for us. I think that web-based voting can have the same effect.
A number of members had questions about the security of internet voting and in particular the risk of hacking or other ways in which the outcome of the election could be compromised. Staff spoke about the measures that would be in place to mitigate the risks; measures such as daily security audits. As I said at the table, we do many things online that pose a significant security risk. We bank online, we even file our taxes online. There are security measures in place to address the risks involved in web-based activities. I don’t see how internet voting poses more of a risk than filing your taxes! Personally, I am confident that if we can enter our sin # on line and file our taxes and ensure the integrity of the tax system, then we can allow voting online and maintain the integrity of the voting process. Many other communities have implemented internet voting and have seen a marked increase in voter turnout. I believe it is time to make this move. Internet voting would allow voters that would not otherwise have the opportunity to vote, the ability to exercise their right to vote. Voters such as students who are not in Town during the election, or voters who are not physically able to get to a polling station. Internet voting increases the accessibility of the voting process. As well there will be polling stations set up with tablets or computers for those without access to a device or the internet.
I am disappointed that the majority of Council decided to vote against the introduction of internet voting for the 2018 municipal election. The vote was 5-3 with Mayor Dawe, Councillor Thompson and myself in favour of internet voting and Councillors Abel, Gaertner, Kim, Thom, and Pirri against (Councillor Humfryes was not present).
As this motion was debated at GC, it will be before Council again next week for ratification. Thus, the vote is not yet final. I would encourage all residents that feel it is time to make the change to internet voting to contact Council and let them know that you support internet voting.
Internet voting will provide far greater access to the electoral process and allow a far greater number of residents to exercise their right to vote. If you agree that internet voting should be introduced for the 2018 municipal election, then please let Council know how you feel and send an email about it…
You can email Council at AllCouncillors@aurora.ca