While Toronto residents line up at the polls Monday, neighbours to the north could well choose to vote with their feet up on the couch at home. And it’s not a new option. Residents of Markham have been able to vote online from anywhere with WiFi for the last 11 years. The City of Toronto has taken baby steps in that direction, but don’t expect everyone to be able to do the same in 2018. In July, city council authorized the use of Internet and telephone voting during the advance vote period for the next municipal election. Council had previously decided to implement online voting for people with disabilities for the Oct. 27 election, but the project was cancelled due to time constraints and failure to provide a secure system. “Online voting has been very well received in Markham since we introduced it in 2003,” said Frank Edwards, the city’s elections co-ordinator. “The number of people who vote online has increased to almost 11,000 people.”
… Some critics of the voting platform aren’t convinced. “Yes voter turnout increased, but just barely. The issue is security — there are security issues that can’t be addressed,” said Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. “There are concerns that the system could be hacked and people wouldn’t know or that the results could be manipulated.”
He cites the 2012 NDP leadership vote. The system used, Scytl, was subject to what the party said was an external attack that was co-ordinated to overwhelm the server, which caused a low voter turnout.
Diane Benson, spokeswoman for Elections Canada, said it has no plans to adopt a Canada-wide online voting system. For one thing, it would have to seek approval. “Security is part of the reason we are not moving forward and not presenting a pilot to parliament,” said Ms. Benson. “The concern, as always, is to have a voting system that has secrecy of vote and is verifiable and has integrity and at this point we are not prepared.”