An 18-member citizen jury will decide this weekend if Edmonton should go ahead with a controversial proposal to allow Internet voting next fall. The jurors will hear presentations on security, software and other issues from almost a dozen expert witnesses before reaching a verdict in what organizers say is the first time this form of public involvement has been tried in Canada. “I think this process is groundbreaking,” city clerk Alayne Sinclair said Friday. “As a municipality, we have to think about how we can engage citizens better, how we can actually get them to be involved.”
Edmonton is looking at allowing residents who need a special ballot because they’re disabled or can’t make it to the polls for the Oct. 21 election to make their choice online.
While online ballots have been cast in more than 60 municipalities in Ontario and Nova Scotia, potential concerns include fraud, privacy, the ability to do recounts, voter authentication and access for people without computers.
Edmonton’s proposed system was tested last month in a mock “jelly bean” vote, but Sinclair wants more public comment before she advises city councillors in January on what they should do.
“I wouldn’t introduce any technology if I didn’t think it was sound, but if people aren’t ready for it why would I go ahead with it?”
If the jury turns thumbs-down on the idea Sunday after three days of hearings, Sinclair won’t recommend council go ahead. If the jury supports it, she’ll give council options on how to proceed.
Juror Radhika Sharma, like her colleagues picked from a pool of hundreds of possible participants, said she wanted to take part to see how decisions are made.
She described herself as being in the middle of the debate on Internet voting.
“I think it would be a good thing, but there’s also the cost … and security would be one of the biggest things. How can you trust someone not to hack into it?”
Full Article: Fate of Internet voting in Edmonton rests with citizen jury.