At first blush, it appears electronic voting did little to conquer voter apathy in Halifax Regional Municipality. The 37 per cent total turnout in October matched that of the 2008 election. That plateau has prompted several councillors to call for a staff review to gauge how effective the $500,000 spent on telephone and online voting was compared to using paper ballots. Coun. Waye Mason questioned the system’s security and said he doesn’t think it should necessarily be used in 2016.
Several residents contacted The Chronicle Herald and other media outlets throughout the election to say they’d received multiple online registration cards or those for family members who no longer lived with them. Residents needed only a PIN and password on the card as well as their birthdate to log on.
“We need way better authentication, but it may be that having verified users who can then vote might cost a lot more money,” the Peninsula South-Downtown councillor said. “And at that point, well, paper ballots work. We had 37 per cent turnout with paper ballots (in 2008) (and) it didn’t cost us all this money, and (it can be audited.)”
This election marked the first time there were no traditional polling station open in advance, but the electronic ballots could be cast over 13 days.
About 22 per cent of those who voted in October’s election did so online. In 2008, nearly a quarter of votes were cast by phone or computer, although the polls were open for three days at that time.
Coun. Jennifer Watts said she thinks it’s difficult to draw any conclusions from the numbers without a thorough review. She said she would like the study to compare the cost and the benefit — in this case, voter turnout — tied to polling stations and electronic voting.
“Would, in fact, (voter turnout) have been less if we had not had e-voting?” the Peninsula North councillor asked. “I don’t know that having less ballot boxes necessarily meant less people voted; maybe there was something else going on. I don’t know if that’s been evaluated or looked at.”
Full Article: Security of e-voting questioned | The Chronicle Herald.