Probing the pros and cons of online voting

Elections BC has been asked to look at best practices of Internet voting in other jurisdictions – both in Canada and around the globe.

B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond has asked Elections BC to create an independent panel to examine the potential for Internet voting in the province.

For some time now, we’ve been hearing from many British Columbians around the province, as well as from interested municipalities, that they want to know more about Internet voting.

As a society, we’ve grown increasingly comfortable with the Internet as a tool. In fact, 93 per cent of British Columbians now have access to high-speed Internet, making us one of the most connected jurisdictions in the world. Many of us have grown accustomed to the convenience the Internet offers and we often rely on it for functions like online banking, shopping and booking travel plans.

This shows the potential Internet voting has to increase accessibility and convenience and reinvigorate democracy in British Columbia.

However, when it comes to something as integral to our democracy as our electoral process, it is imperative that the appropriate precautions are taken.

That’s why I, as Attorney General, have requested that Elections BC convene an independent panel to examine the potential for Internet voting here in B.C. This is the first step in exploring whether or not Internet voting is a feasible option for our province.

Specifically, Elections BC has been asked to look at best practices when it comes to Internet voting in other jurisdictions – both in Canada and around the globe. The panel will look at Internet voting in both local and provincial contexts, as certain factors may be unique to each level of government.

Most importantly, the panel will be examining all potential security and privacy concerns and how those may be addressed before we would even consider implementation.

B.C.’s chief electoral officer Keith Archer will  chair the panel, which will have members with expertise in technology, cryptography, Internet security policy and electoral administration.

This panel will – and already has – sparked an engaging conversation about modernizing our electoral process.

While we remain optimistic Internet voting could increase voter turnout in our province, we are exercising tremendous caution with something as significant as our province’s democracy.

I’ll look forward to receiving the independent panel’s report and observing the interesting debate about Internet voting as it unfolds.

 

Shirley Bond

Minister of Justice and Attorney General

Surrey North Delta Leader

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