Friday, September 30, 2011

Report on Internet Voting in Markham, Ontario, Canada

“Let facts be Submitted to a Candid World”

This month the Delvinia Interactive Corporation issued its Report on Internet Voting in the Town of Markham, Ontario, Canada. The following are key findings from the report.

Key findings
Specific details, evidence and additional support for each of these findings can be found in the full report.

The online voting process
• The extension of Internet voting is about convenience.
• There is overwhelming satisfaction with the Internet voting process, as 99 per cent of online voters reported being satisfied.
• In fact, the proportion of those who reported being ‘very satisfied’ rose from previous election years in 2010.
• 91 per cent of online voters chose to vote from home, indicating that is the preferred voting location when it comes to Internet ballots.
• Nearly all online voters (99 per cent) say they would be likely to vote online in future municipal elections.

Internet voting at other levels of government:
• Support for Internet ballots at other levels of government is rising.
• 99 per cent of online voters indicated that they would be likely to vote online in a provincial election if it were available.
• An equal number would be likely to vote online in a federal election if it were available.

Young people:
• The rate of use of Internet voting among young people appears to be declining with each election cycle, while it is increasing among older electors.
• Slightly more than a third of young people aged 18 to 24 say they either probably wouldn’t or definitely wouldn’t have voted had Internet voting not been an option.
• Evidence suggests online voting may be a useful way to make the electoral process easier for students away at college or university.
• The youngest and oldest online voters are most likely to cite accessibility as their main motivation for voting.
• Traditional media sources are least effective for informing young voters.
• When it comes to informing electors, young people need to be reached differently than other types of potential voters, particularly using technology and the Internet.

Older electors:
• Despite the fact that middle-aged and older electors report less frequent Internet usage than young people, they make the most use of Internet voting.
• The likelihood of voting online because of a ‘positive past experience with it’ increases with age.

What is the impact of Internet voting on voter turnout?
• There is evidence to suggest turnout can experience modest increases from the extension of online voting.
• Analysis suggests that Internet voting may be an important electoral motivator for younger electors with less committed voting records.
• About 40 per cent of young people aged 18 to 24 that self-identify as occasional or non-voters at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels of government were encouraged to vote because of the availability of online ballots in 2010.
• Of the 17,231 Markham voters who registered to vote electronically, 10,597 [nearly 2/3] used the Internet to cast their ballots.

Candidates:
• 78 per cent of candidates report that the option of Internet voting had a significant impact on the campaign, namely its effect on campaign strategies, mobilization tactics, and with respect to voter turnout.
• 92 per cent of candidates indicated they were either ‘completely’ or ‘mostly’ in favour of the implementation of Internet voting in the 2010 Markham municipal election.

Support for online voting among all eligible electors in Canada:
• On the whole, there is broad support for the introduction of Internet voting as an alternative voting method in elections and people report being likely to use the service.
• There is a public perception that the option of online ballots would enhance the accessibility and equality of the electoral process.

Conclusion
Overall, the data suggests that there is broad public support for the introduction of Internet voting in Canadian elections at all levels of government. Based on the cross-Canada survey of eligible electors, the general public perception is that the introduction of Internet ballots would make the electoral process more accessible and would enhance the equality of the process, particularly for certain groups of electors.

In the specific case of Markham, Internet voting has been proven to produce some positive effects on the electoral process, namely enhancing electoral convenience and accessibility and by that fact encouraging electoral participation. There is also some evidence to suggest that Internet voting can encourage the electoral involvement of people who previously identified as non-voters.

Finally, online voters are extremely satisfied with Internet ballots and report being likely to continue using them in subsequent elections. Taken together, this report represents a first step at shedding light on the potential for Internet voting in Canada and the impact of its deployment on election stakeholders such as electors and candidates by looking at public opinion data from the Town of Markham.

Markham’s experience with Internet voting teaches us some helpful lessons and imparts valuable insights regarding the implementation and development of online ballots in Canada. Many of these findings are also important for Internet voting programs that are being researched or becoming established abroad.

This report was prepared by Nicole Goodman, a PhD candidate at Carleton University in the Department of Political Science.

Note:
The DC fiasco was not real Internet voting. See http://tinyurl.com/DCin2010

3 comments:

grannyles said...

Two problems:
1. The ability to track back and find out how an individual voted
2. Manipulation within the system is very easy to do and much harder to trace than stacked ballot boxes, for instance. And such tracking would require the cooperation of those who controle the system -- the winners.
Canada may be unique, but this is definately NOT a widespread solution.

wjk said...

Misinformation by the Ill-informed

Sorry, grannyles, but you haven’t done your research, nor thought through your claims.

Search this blog for reports on numerous countries in Europe, provinces in Canada, states in the US, and even India. Internet voting can be done by separating the vote from the voter’s ID.

After logging on to the secure voting website, the voter’s registration is checked. When that clears, a separate module puts up the blank ballot. The vote can be recorded in a distinct memory, so that it can’t be traced back – even if a court ordered it.

In a business transaction the system is set up so that name and transaction can be tracked back, but the privacy requirements of Internet voting are easily met by the professionals who have experience with the technology. (Not like in DC, which I discuss in this blog)

Canada isn't unique, just more advanced than the backwards USA! But one day it will come here, hopefull soon.
wjk

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. said...

Anonymous comment had lots of stats, but no links to support them.
Waiting for links ...