If the provincial government approves, Vancouver residents will be able to vote for their municipal representatives online this fall. Vancouver is set to join a small but growing number of Canadian municipalities that allow internet voting, subject to the province’s approval. That approval, according to City Councillor Andrea Reimer, is very likely, as the province is also interested in exploring the potential of internet voting.
[Suzanne] Anton was the only councillor to vote against Reimer’s proposal. She has two major concerns, she says: voters will have no idea what happens to their vote after they cast it, and the city will have no idea of the circumstances under which the vote was cast, meaning voters could be intimidated into voting a particular way or even sell or give their vote to someone else to cast.
Estonian scholars Űlle Madise, and Tarvi Martens say there is no evidence that internet voting has increased voter turnout, while Michael Alvarez of the California Institute of Technology notes that efforts to introduce internet voting in the United States have had mixed results. On the other hand, Canadian experiences have been positive, with Halifax and Markham voters enthusiastic about the experience and Markham reporting increased turnout in the advance polls.
After analyzing Estonia’s experience, Madise and Martens say that “the internet is an inherently insecure platform. Indeed, various attacks, including worms, viruses, spy ware, spoofing, denial of service and others, can be used to compromise the voting results, to break the voter’s anonymity, or to interrupt the elections.” And Joseph Hall, a computer scientist at the University of California (Berkeley), observes that while it’s easy to ensure that all voting machines in polling stations are secure, it’s impossible to inspect the home computer of every single eligible voter in a municipality to ensure it’s secure and free from malware.