Online voting option backed by B.C. cities

UBCM asks province to allow e-voting at civic level

Citizens may be able to remotely vote over the Internet to elect their mayor and council as early as 2014.

Union of B.C. Municipalities delegates voted by a two-to-one margin Wednesday to urge the province to lay the groundwork to allow online voting as an option three years from now.

Advocates of the idea say it could reverse a trend of sagging voter turnout, while detractors worry casting a ballot may no longer be secret, opening the door to vote-tampering by interest groups out to sway the result.

“We all have to acknowledge the fact society has changed,” said Coquitlam Coun. Linda Reimer, one of the delegates who voted in favour.

Just 20.5 per cent of Coquitlam voters turned out in the last election, she said, and the provincial average is 35 per cent for civic elections.

White Rock Coun. Lynne Sinclair dismissed another delegate’s suggestion many seniors aren’t tech-savvy and wouldn’t benefit.

She said one Ontario city that allows online voting found most users are seniors with mobility problems.

Others warned it’s too risky to end the long tradition of voting secretly in a ballot booth at an authorized polling place.

“Online voting is fraught with danger,” said Sunshine Coast Regional District director Donna Shugar.

“You don’t know who is in the room with a voter coercing or persuading them. We do not allow people to go in the polling booth with other people when they are voting.”

When the voting booth becomes your computer in your home, she said, such restrictions and safeguards will no longer exist.

“It’s too easy to hack a system,” added Fraser Valley Regional District director Wendy Bales, predicting the technology – if it backfires – may not strengthen democracy but further erode faith in the system.

Spallumcheen Mayor Will Hansma pointed to irregularities over online voting during the BC LIberal leadership vote earlier this year.

“I was busy so I phoned my wife, gave her my number and she voted for me,” Hansma said, adding there’s so far no technological solution available to block unauthorized voting or undue influence.

“This isn’t being forced on anyone,” countered Kelowna Coun. Kevin Craig. “If it’s not right for your community, you’re not being railroaded into it.”

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong has promised to pursue the idea, which would require a change of legislation and time to sort out the technological issues.

Another tradition that will definitely end in 2014 is November voting.

From that year on, local voting will happen in October.

The election date change was approved by the province in response to a UBCM vote a year ago.

UBCM had its own wrangle of electronic voting at the start of proceedings.

Delegates had been given electronic voting devices to vote on resolutions, but some questioned whether the wireless gadgets might let some vote from outside the hall – or even go golfing while other delegates vote for them. They were told it’s possible, but it would be wrong.

Just Posted

People’s Party of Canada plan to have a candidate in the North Island-Powell River riding

Elections Canada formally recognized the North Island—Powell River PPC Association

NVIATS takes over NIEFS space in Thunderbird Mall

“We were approached by NIEFS, they’re going to be downsizing”

Port Hardy Reigns compete in Nanaimo at Island Championships

“We are very fortunate to have this opportunity for our youth in Port Hardy”

Derina Harvey Band – Heartfelt, Energetic, Celtic rock comes to Port Hardy

Front-woman Derina Harvey leads this Celtic-rock act, who offer an authentic east-coast experience.

OPINION: Urgent care room will cost lives

“Seniors, of any demographic, are the most vulnerable to the loss of emergency care.”

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Can you put your phone down for Mother’s Day?

#DiningMode campaign encourages people to leave the phone alone while eating

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

Most Read