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
I am not disappointed in the majority of council’s decision on this issue, in fact, I applaud Clr. Thom for bringing to the table significant details that were not covered on in the staff report.
In order to better understand your position I have 4 questions relating to the arguments you are raising:
Argument #1 – bring Aurora in line with what other municipalities.
You mention Markham. As the comparison was made Markham adopted clear bags, Aurora thankfully did not.
I understand Newmarket is also in line, but you neglect to mention Toronto, which has chosen not to adopt, and their findings that support their decision are significant.
Argument #2 – an “opportunity” to increase voter turnout.
You state that “Many other communities have implemented internet voting and have seen a marked increase in voter turnout”
Okay, how many and which ones specifically?
How have these municipalities attributed the increase in voter turnout as a direct relation to internet voting?
Argument #3 – security risk
Using your analogy of filing taxes online, one may file their taxes online but if the CSA wants to audit your taxes they will ask for paper records.
The clerk confirmed for council that there is no paper trail with electronic voting. There is limited recourse in means of voting audit and recount compared to the existing system, this does not provide confidence in the ability to maintain the integrity of the voting process.
Argument #4 – Internet voting will provide “far greater” access, and allow a “far greater number of residents to exercise their right to vote”.
How much greater will internet voting provide access?
Where are the metrics that back up your assumptions?
How many residents were denied access to the Town of Aurora’s 2014 Election due to lack of internet voting?
#1 2014 had 97 municipalities with online voting. 2018 will see that number likely double witch means half of all municipalities will have implemented online voting.
#2 off the top of my head i will mention 2 … Pickering saw a 6% increase, and Guelph saw 9% increase after implantation…
#3 From Guelph staff report – “Internet voting products have continued to develop in response to common concerns expressed about the technology or the associated processes. For example, some products have the capability to create ballot images representative of the online ballots which are submitted. These images are marked accordingly from a database consisting of thousands of hand-written “X’s” rendering the ballot image indistinguishable from any hand marked ballot. If a manual recount is ordered, these images can then be physically produced and run through tabulators along with manually marked ballots. Some products also have the capacity to provide encrypted receipts to voters verifying that their online ballot was registered. Within such systems, voters receive a text string when submitting their online ballot which they can use to reconcile against a master list (usually posted to the jurisdiction’s official website) to verify that the system had accepted and tallied their vote.”
#4 From an article in the Globe and mail – “Looking at data from Elections Canada, which asks non-voters about their rationales for not participating, shows that the largest group of reasons cited for not voting in 2000 and 2004 includes items such as disinterest, apathy, and cynicism. In 2008 and 2011, most popularly cited reasons are those that relate to accessibility (e.g. being “too busy”, “travelling”, “work/ school schedule”, and “injury” etc). For electors who are away, busy or injured, the option of voting remotely online from the comfort of their home could encourage voting.”