The Government of Alberta decided last week to pull the plug on proposed pilot projects to make online voting available for advanced polls, citing security concerns as well as initial set-up costs as the main deterrents. Edmonton city council also voted the idea down for the same reasons. “It really is disappointing that the province chose to really react to the decision of Edmonton city council and basically allow Edmonton to drive the determination of what’s going to happen in the rest of the province,” said Mayor Bill Given. The city received its notice through a letter from Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths on March 6.
The city was expected to work on the project with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, splitting a one-time grant of $250,000. The city and RMWB were alongside Edmonton, Strathcona County and St. Alberta in vying for the opportunity to use online voting.
Costs were estimated in November 2012 to be between $217,000 and $301,000 on top of the $125,000 grant. That price would have paid for the physical voting infrastructure as well as the software used to run advanced polls.
Given says although the option to continue and conduct a dry run is open, the city isn’t prepared to do so.
“The City of Grande Prairie has invested significant time and resources to look into internet voting over the last number of years and, in fact, the last number of council terms,” added Given. “From here on out, if the provincial government is looking to advance the cause and do further research, it needs to be led by them.”
“To have the provincial government decline the initiative, it really saps my desire to support it any further.”