“Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” So goes the famous quote. Without very careful study, you might get the wish of Internet voting — and live to regret it. Your birth certificate and passport are “foundation” documents. You have to show up to get them. You have to show up to get married, and you should have to show up to cast a ballot, both “foundation” activities. Internet voting advocates assume away the large risks — and certainty of abuse — of online voting, not to mention the difficulty and expense of developing the system. There is no audit trail in an online vote. Physical ballot boxes are sealed in the presence of human witnesses. The individual ballots can be recounted to determine by sight the voter’s intention. The sheer number of human beings physically watching voters makes the integrity of the ballot box difficult to breach, though people try to cheat in every election. Online voting would be used just once every four years. There is no opportunity to properly debug the system when it goes awry on election day, or between elections, or stress-test the system to determine if it stands up to the server traffic. Enersource’s web servers went down during the July rain storm power outage in the GTA. People got their information from Facebook and Twitter. Hackers thrive in the years of dark time between scheduled elections. Proponents of online voting point to the ubiquitous use of online banking and other daily Internet transactions. The critical difference is that those other systems are used, debugged, watched and stress-tested each and every day by scores of experts who know them inside out. Gaining access to the software’s root directory enables a hacker to control the system on election day, and corrupt the outcome. By the time voters see the damage, it is too late.
Articles about voting issues in North America outside the United States.
Elections Canada said this week that it hopes to test Internet voting in byelections after the 2015 general federal election. If the tests are successful, the agency could adopt this form of voting in all federal elections. Elections Canada is on a perilous track. The use of computers in democracy’s most important exercise, voting, is subject to two serious dangers: inadvertent glitches and deliberate tampering. Montrealers know all about the glitches. So do voters in most of the 139 other cities and towns across Quebec that also used electronic equipment in their 2005 municipal elections (either for counting votes, as did Montreal and Longueuil, or for both voting and counting, as did Quebec City). In Montreal’s case, 45,000 ballots were counted twice (only later corrected), and election results were hours late. Snafus were also rife elsewhere. Quebec’s elections agency wisely responded to the fiasco by suspending use of such technology until it could be shown to be foolproof. Logically, this should mean suspension in perpetuity: Computers will never be risk-free.
Mexico’s conservative opposition retained the governor’s seat in Baja California after the ruling party candidate conceded defeat Saturday following a recount in the politically crucial state. The state bordering the United States was the biggest prize in the July 7 regional elections in 14 Mexican states, with analysts saying its result could sink or save a multi-party reform pact. The candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Fernando Castro Trenti, threw in the towel as the recount gave an edge to National Action Party (PAN) rival Francisco “Kiko” Vega.
For a dead man, Lenin Carballido apparently ran a pretty good campaign. Last Sunday, nearly three years after he was officially declared dead, Carballido was narrowly elected mayor of San Agustin Amatengo, a small town in Mexico’s Oaxaca state. Carballido faked his own demise in 2010, according to Mexico’s Reforma newspaper, in order to evade charges stemming from a 2004 sexual assault. With police on his trail, Carballido “died” and obtained a coroner’s certificate in September 2010, affirming he had succumbed to “natural causes” after slipping into a diabetic coma. The charges were dropped. Carballido’s resurrection occurred this year when he ran as a local candidate for Mexico’s leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), beating his opponent Sunday by a margin of 11 votes, 515 to 504.
Authorities began Wednesday to recount ballots in a key gubernatorial election in the Mexican state of Baja California after preliminary results were scrapped due to a technical glitch. The result of the election in the state, which borders the United States, could have an impact on national politics, with analysts saying that a defeat for the conservative National Action Party (PAN) may threaten a multi-party reform pact. Helga Casanova, spokeswoman for the Baja California Electoral Institute, told AFP that the recount may last until Sunday but that it could be completed before then.
The election for the prized post of governor of Baja California was thrown into disarray Monday, with both major candidates claiming victory and a preliminary vote count abruptly halted because of what authorities called a math error. The National Action Party, which has held the job since 1989, when it became the first party to defeat the Institutional Revolutionary Party in an election, was ahead by a few percentage points after polls closed Sunday night, officials said. But then, with about 97% of preliminary results tallied in a quick count by a private contractor, officials suddenly halted the count and said results would not be available until Wednesday. The officials cited a problem with algorithms. Some Mexicans smelled a rat. They recalled the notorious presidential election of 1988, when leftist candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas appeared to be defeating Carlos Salinas de Gortari of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. At a certain point, the system conducting the ballot count had what authorities at the time claimed to be a mechanical failure. When the computers came back up, Salinas was declared the victor.
Mexican electoral officials Monday declared the preliminary results of a race for governor in Baja California invalid after the ruling party and the opposition both claimed victory in the politically pivotal state. The election in Baja California, which borders the United States, was the biggest prize in regional polls held in 14 states on Sunday after one of the most violent campaign seasons in recent years. Analysts say the result in the border state could affect a national political reform pact.
The province should test online voting with a pilot project during a byelection down the road, Elections Ontario recommends.
In a two-part, 271-page report to the legislature tabled Monday, Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa said it’s time to embrace technological changes in order to encourage more people to vote. … But there are security and technological challenges to online or telephone voting, he concluded after looking at experiences in Australia, Estonia, the U.S., the United Kingdom and various Canadian municipalities. These include “identifying the need to overcome capacity challenges by building and supporting the infrastructure required to manage a system for the entire province” and understanding that there will be “significant costs associated with pilots and integrating network voting into a general election (more than $2 million per use of the system).”
Canada: Toronto Councillors vote to seek end of ‘first past the post’ system in city elections | National Post
Toronto city council took a significant step on Tuesday towards dramatically changing how the city elects its leaders — and who gets to cast a ballot. By a vote of 26 to 15, the governing body asked the provincial government to allow it to use the ranked choice voting system, which demands that the winning candidate accumulate at least 50% of votes cast. It also asked, by a margin of 21 to 20, the minister of municipal affairs and housing to grant permanent residents the right to vote in municipal elections. Both initiatives require Queen’s Park to amend legislation. Yanni Dagonas, a spokesperson for Minister Linda Jeffrey, said the government will give Toronto’s requests “careful consideration” and said it appreciated the city’s efforts to “increase voter engagement.” City staff have already indicated it would be impossible to implement such reforms by the 2014 election. Ranked choice voting would also have to come back to city council for further approvals.
Canada: Toronto Council votes to explore ranked balloting, voting for permanent residents | Globalnews.ca
Toronto’s city council voted to explore ranked balloting and let permanent residents vote during a council debate Tuesday. The votes were part of a larger motion on electoral reform that included suggestions to establish weekend elections and internet voting. Changes to municipal elections would require legislative changes by the Ontario government. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing issued a short statement Tuesday evening saying the Ontario government “will take the time to give careful consideration” to the proposal and appreciates the city’s “efforts to look at ways to increase voter engagement.”