Edmonton city council would be wise to exercise real caution before introducing Internet voting into the municipal election system. As tempting as it might be to blaze an electronic trail into the local democratic process, the notion of a vote that’s only a click away triggers some genuine concerns. Edmonton and several other Alberta municipalities are looking at becoming the first centres in Western Canada to allow Internet votes. City staff have recommended council approve online ballots in advance polls for next fall’s municipal election, following what was regarded as a successful mock vote last September that tested such a system with no discernible security breaches. That all-systems-go enthusiasm took a hit last week when a local computer programmer informed council’s executive committee that he was able to cast two ballots in the mock election without being detected.
Markham, Ont., was the first major Canadian city to introduce electronic voting in advance polls in 2003. Peterborough and Halifax have held successful trials. Last fall, Truro, N.S., conducted its entire municipal vote online. The B.C. government recently approved a $420,000 study into the security risks of Internet voting.
Its proponents say the Internet ballot is far more accessible, particularly for the younger demographic that rarely turns up at the voting booth, and renders elections less susceptible to the vagaries of weather. They also contend that online voting is only a natural extension of the vigorous political debate that’s being increasingly waged there.
But Internet voting in Canada has already demonstrated vulnerabilities. The last national NDP leadership convention was thrown into disarray when hackers caused thousands of virus-infected computers to flood the party’s election server with phoney traffic.
Full Article: Online voting is too risky.