The city is looking at the possibility of electronic voting in the next Edmonton civic election. E-voting, which can mean casting ballots through the Internet or over the telephone, has been tried over the last decade in other parts of Canada and several European countries. Staff expect to come up with proposals by next fall on potential options, including electronic ballots and touch screens, to properly prepare for any e-voting in the 2013 election.
While they will discuss what can be achieved, costs and how the system could work, a report to be discussed by city council Wednesday says developing and testing Internet voting would take too long to be ready for the next campaign.
… There have been problems in other countries. The U.K. introduced test programs in 2002 involving voting via telephone, the Internet, text message and even digital television, but pulled the plug in 2007 amid security concerns and little change in voter turnout.
The Netherlands planned to allow Internet voting in parliamentary elections in 2006, but aborted the scheme after a group hacked the system on live television. The Dutch Council of Ministers banned electronic voting in 2008.
Brad Haines, a self-identified Edmonton hacker who makes his living through digital security consulting, worries about the risks of online voting. “You’re basically hoping that you get it right the first time and the democratic process isn’t completely upended.” Computer glitches and malicious hacking are equal threats, Haines said.
“You can think about a scenario where you introduce just enough doubt into an election that should it not go your way, you can complain to get the election result thrown out and get an effective do-over. That’s not the way the democratic process is supposed to be. You can’t keep doing mulligans.”