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

Job market to remain tight in coming years: report

Conference Board of Canada predicts region’s unemployment rate to remain below five per cent

Chilliwack driver busted with heroin after nodding off behind the wheel

29-year-old man from Vancouver facing possible charges

Vancouver TheatreSports finishes off Harrison’s Season of Performing Arts

Vancovuer TheatreSports will be performing in Harrison on May 4

Get your rock and roll on with the Hope Mountain Centre

Centre is hosting its annual Peers Creek Boulder Toss

Judge questions joint submission for Chilliwack man who sexually assaulted girl

Crown, defence ordered to find case law to back up one-year sentencing for Andrew Mullaly

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR

RCMP believe the foreign national is part of a larger organized theft group

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Worst 10 bus routes in Metro Vancouver for rider complaints

TransLink releases list, with Route 319 at the top

Mayors, First Nations chiefs, urge ‘immediate action’ on new Massey crossing

Joint letter asks province to move up timeline, consider only eight-lane tunnel options

Bus driver assault in Vancouver once again raises safety concerns

A 49-year-old Surrey man was released on a promise to appear in court. No charge has been laid

Most Read