We use the Internet for just about everything these days. … The concept of e-voting — whether it be casting a ballot via the phone or Internet or using electronic vote-counters at a polling station — is hardly novel. Officials across Canada began experimenting with this kind of technology when computers still weighed 30 pounds and took up most of the space on your desk. But early and repeated failures have made many jurisdictions — including Quebec — wary of handing control of any part of the democratic process over to a machine. “We’re not anywhere near (introducing any form of e-voting) for the moment,” Elections Quebec spokesperson Stephanie Isabel told The Gazette on Friday. “There’s an internal committee here that is doing analysis and studying this, but there is no project envisioned.” The trepidation is perhaps understandable. Even as technology has improved in recent years, the foul-ups have continued. The most recent example came during the NDP’s national leadership convention in 2012, when the Internet-based voting process was marred by allegations of a possible denial-of-service attack, in which a hacker overwhelms a server with requests and causes it to crash.
Closer to home, a series of electronic polling disasters during Quebec’s 2005 municipal elections led to demands for recounts and accusations of poor planning by the chief electoral officer. A report about what went wrong was published in 2006, and a moratorium was placed on any future use of “voting machines” at polling stations in the province. That moratorium — which does not extend to voting via the Internet — is still in effect.
According to Nicole Goodman, an assistant professor at McMaster University in Hamilton who is one of Canada’s leading experts on e-voting, there is still plenty of work to be done before web-based ballots become commonplace. “I think there are policy issues, as well as other issues, and that’s the case with any technological policy change,” Goodman said. “Research is really important … I can go give talks to municipal governments and say: ‘This is a situation where it failed. This is a situation where it worked. And these are steps you can take to implement a solid program of Internet voting.’ ”
Full Article: Governments wary of going digital with elections.