The basics of what actually happens when Canadians go to vote hasn’t changed in many decades. A human clerk finds the voter on a paper list, crosses her name off with a pen, then gives her a paper ballot to mark by hand. When the polls close, officials count the ballots one by one, tallying them on a sheet of paper, and phone the results in to a returning officer. Voters’ great-great-grandparents would be confused by many aspects of modern life, but not this one. Very little has changed since secret ballots were introduced in 1874. It’s a low-tech 19th-century system that isn’t likely to change anytime soon, in part for 21st-century reasons. The more complex, and electronic, a voting system is, the more vulnerable it is to attack, and the simpler and more paper-based it is, the more secure it is.
That’s what officials in the Netherlands decided in February of last year when they abandoned electronic voting in favour of what interior minister Ronald Plasterk called “good old pen and paper.”
(Dutch voters had to cope with an enormous ballot the size of a double sheet of newspaper, but, Plasterk told Reuters, “no shadow of doubt can be permitted” about the integrity of election results.)