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Internet Voting Panel submits final recommendations to Legislative Assembly of BC

Posted in News Bytes

The Independent Panel on Internet Voting received more than 100 responses from individuals and organizations representing people with disabilities including a submission from Access for Sight Impaired Consumers.

The Independent Panel on Internet Voting has published and submitted its Recommendations Report to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia on February 12 2014. You can view an HTML copy of the Recommendations Report by clicking on the link.

The panel concluded that Internet voting has the potential to provide some benefits for administering local government elections and provincial elections in British Columbia and that the most significant potential benefit of Internet voting is increased accessibility and convenience for BC voters.

Other presumed benefits, such as increased turnout and lower cost are not typically realized. The panel also concludes that Internet voting has some significant inherent risks. It is important to understand that although the Internet is used for an increasing number of interactions (such as banking, shopping, dating, planning trips, and the like) with their own risks, voting over the Internet has a set of unique challenges that inevitably introduce a number of additional risks. The extent to which each of these risks can be mitigated or eliminated also depends on the details of the way in whic​h an Internet voting model is implemented.

Security at the voter’s device,2 reduced transparency and auditability compared to traditional voting methods, and cost were seen by the panel to be the most significant challenges to implementing Internet voting for either local government or provincial government elections.

While Internet voting has been investigated by various jurisdictions around the world over the past fifteen years, it is still not widely implemented. Internet voting is used in only a limited number of jurisdictions, and only on a limited basis.

Weighing the benefits and challenges to implementing Internet voting in specific circumstances is the role of policy-makers. There is a high level of trust in the current voting processes used at the local and provincial government levels, but there are opportunities for improvement in each. The panel believes that Internet voting has the potential to be an additional voting channel for voters with specific accessibility challenges in future local or provincial government elections, provided that the recommendations outlined in the report are followed and any system implemented complies with the principles established by the panel. The panel believes it is not feasible for this to occur in time for the 2014 local government elections.

Each recommendation put forth by the panel can be viewed within the Recommendations Report including their recommendation to pilot internet voting for a select group of BC voters with disabilities.

As it now rests with the Legislature of BC to adopt or reject the panel’s recommendations, we would urge you to contact your MLA immediately, either by telephone, mail or e-mail, to urge him/her to support a pilot test of internet voting by BC voters with disabilities. For your convenience, we are pleased to provide a downloadable list of contact information for all members of the legislature.