After what seemed like a possible second chance for an Internet voting pilot project in Strathcona County, council squashed the plan for the upcoming general election, following a warning from the province. On Tuesday, April 9, council approved three recommendations that would effectively send the Internet Voting Pilot project back to the drawing board until the province and the municipality had conducted further research into the plan. According to Jacqueline Roblin from Legislative and Legal Services, the pilot project was first considered by council to be used during the upcoming 2013 general election. “The initial Internet voting pilot that council authorized Strathcona County to participate in was a collaborative effort between Municipal Affairs, Edmonton, St. Albert and Strathcona County to pilot Internet voting in conjunction and forming part of the 2013 general election,” she clarified. After Edmonton and St. Albert dropped out of the pilot project, Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths advised the county that the department would not be supporting the initiative and withdrew the promised funding.
Rather than cancelling the project, council approved a plan to test the Internet voting technology in high schools. Following the move by council, the assistant deputy minister of Municipal Affairs, Paul Whittaker, warned that the county should avoid conducting any project during elections that could impact the official process.
“The assistant deputy minister advised that while there is nothing in legislation that would prevent a municipality from conducting a test vote that wowwuld not form part of the actual 2013 election voting result, he did however urge caution for misunderstandings that could impact the official voting process,” Roblin added.
Rather than proceed with the pilot project, council approved cancelling the initiative for this election cycle and joining a municipal-provincial review team to follow up on the technology for the future.