Elections BC August 2011 E-Voting Report

Remember the last post, where I said that I was going to investigate E-Voting at the Municipal, Federal and Provincial levels? It turns out that Elections BC looked into E-Voting back in August 2011</a>, this was after the City of Vancouver looked into it. What they found was actually very interesting, and it pretty much sums up how I feel about it, but I’m going to comment on some of the relevant findings in the summary:

ƒSecurity and other risks have been controlled by trialling Internet voting as an additional channel layered on top of existing voting opportunities, limiting it to special groups of electors (e.g. overseas military), or focusing on lower levels of government and/or referendums. </strong>

This makes sense. This is why we haven’t seen any attacks on a voting system until now. The attack would be mitigated to something like a municipality, or to overseas voters, and not to the public at large, making the task of restarting the election relatively low.

ƒNever used as the sole voting channel in a public election. No documented cases of hacking of Internet voting systems in a public election. </strong> Was the NDP Leadership Vote a Public Election? Technically not, but since the barrier to entry was as low as a dollar for many people, it might as well have been. It would have cost me $10 to join the NDP, but given that this is the cost of two ATIP, that’s marginal.

ƒ Very popular with voters; surveys show that those who use Internet voting are very likely to use it again. </strong>

I’m sure this is popular when the system actually works. If the system goes down, then it’s another story. I’m actually a bit impressed with the track record so far, to be honest.

ƒ Popular with baby boomers and does not appear to be the answer to low youth participation. </strong>

Of course it’s not the answer. Given the fact that the definition of Youth is changing, combined with the fact that politicians are growing increasingly out of touch with everyone under the age of forty-five tells me that politicians aren’t dealing with the most important issues properly, or that regardless of whose in power, people aren’t seeing a real change.

The fact is that most young people see government as irrelevant, incompetent or actually out to get them. Of course, this message is encouraged by right wing politicians who preach smaller government, and at the same time fund police and prisons to lock up the entire population if needed. Proof of this is the fact that the most common Federal Government agency that people interact with is Canada Revenue Agency, Canada Border Services Agency or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. One wants to tax you, and the other two want to throw you in jail for some fucked up reason.

As for provincial politics, it could be the fact that all the provincial parties suck! Not a single party to vote for, but plenty to vote against, and BC is known for promoting dirty politics.

ƒImpact on voter turnout is inconclusive. Its popularity tends to increase turnout in the part of the election in which it is used (e.g. advance voting), but overall turnout rates tend to remain unchanged. </strong>

So, if you allowed electronic voting to be used in a general election on voting day, there would be a trend of people voting more. That being said, you would have a set day and time when the attack can be the most effective against that system as well, as shown by the Denial of Service attack on the NDP Leadership Vote.

In summary, BC Elections kind of hit the nail on the head, and e-voting is not a solution to the low election turnout, nor is it a solution to voter engagement of any kind, since it can easily be attacked on voting day, when everyone is trying to use it, as we have seen with the NDP. I’m wondering if Elections Canada came to the same conclusion.