The Special Committee on Electoral Reform resumed its deliberations Monday after a two-week break, hearing from three political science professors who all opposed the option of a national referendum on electoral reform. Though Ken Carty (professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia), Brian Tanguay (professor at Wilfred Laurier University), and Nelson Wiseman (professor at the University of Toronto) expressed different views on which electoral system is the best for Canada, they were in complete agreement on the politically charged question of whether a referendum on electoral reform should be held, expressing a consensus against a national plebiscite. … All three also agreed that security concerns about online voting remain too great to try implementing it at the federal level any time soon. “The preponderance of experts are opposed to it, because…you can hack the system,” Wiseman told the committee, citing the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee as an example of a threat and e-voting “snafus” during the 2012 NDP leadership race, but adding that he could support its limited use for those with mobility issues.
“This isn’t something I’ve done research on, but like Professor Wiseman, I’d be worried about the security aspects of online voting,” Tanguay followed. “But nonetheless I’m intrigued by the process and believe that a number of studies at the municipal level here in Ontario are being conducted, will be conducted in the future, and ought to continue to be conducted.” For Carty, the fact that both the current chief electoral officer and his predecessor felt there were still too many security concerns meant that it was probably an issue to be considered in the future.
On mandatory voting, Carty and Tanguay thought the Australian model of a modest fine for not voting was something that should be adopted in Canada, but Wiseman preferred an incentive over a punishment. “Rather than a penalty…offer them a carrot. Parliament has introduced so many boutique tax credits — give them $20-$30. Right now it costs about $30 for every vote that’s cast,” he said.
Tanguay later disagreed. “I cannot take seriously the proposal to give people tax credits for showing up to vote,” he said.