Our municipalities and province likely won’t be using Internet voting to help determine election results anytime soon. That doesn’t mean we won’t eventually be using such a method to cast our ballots in future.
An independent panel tasked by Elections B.C. to study Internet voting recommended this week that any such system not be implemented in time for the upcoming municipal election, nor the next B.C. vote. But it did suggest that a technical committee be struck to look into the matter further and that the legislature should support jurisdictions that wish to pursue the option in future.
The preliminary report released Wednesday offered less than lukewarm support for the idea. It confirmed that making voting easier for people in this way – those who are incapacitated, can’t work a trip to their local polling station into their schedule, or are too lazy to do so come to mind – has not been shown in other jurisdictions to significantly increase voter turnout.
As for the large group of people who feel their vote doesn’t matter, or don’t care enough to vote in the first place, they present another challenge altogether, one likely not solvable with online voting.
Increasing voter turnout at any level still comes down to individuals and parties doing the legwork and convincing non-voters of the importance of getting engaged in their communities, and potentially making a difference through casting their ballot.
That said, the world is fast becoming an all-digital environment, where computers and cellphones can be used for virtually any transaction.
While the report states the current system of voting is trusted by those who vote, that factor will become less meaningful as time goes on and generations that have grown up with technology become our communities’ core voters.
We may not have the most efficient or system-improving Internet voting experiences to draw from yet, but now is the best time to begin investigating this option, to be ready for when it is the best alternative.