E-voting is critical for young voters

The recent municipal election proves online voting is effective and necessary

Of Ontario’s 444 municipalities, 194 allowed voters to vote in online ballots.
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The recent municipal election on Oct. 22 saw the increased use of online voting platforms in townships across the province—a move as popular as it is necessary.

Of Ontario’s 444 municipalities, 194 allowed voters to cast ballots via the internet, with 80 per cent of those municipalities relying solely on the system of e-voting. Polls for the municipal election were open from Oct. 13 to the time voting closed, at which point the results were available instantly.

Online voting makes the ballot box more accessible to the voter, allowing citizens to participate in the election from any location at any time—so long as they have their voter identification pin and access to internet. 

As a university student that doesn’t live near their town of permanent residence, I appreciated being able to participate in the municipal election without travelling across the province or appointing a voting proxy.

As of 2018, online voting has only been used for municipal elections and there are no plans to expand it provincially or federally. But this technology needs to become a universally available means of casting ballots in all future elections to ensure that students pursuing post-secondary degrees have reasonable access to polling stations. 

In Canada, voting structure is controlled by the Canada Elections Act. The act doesn’t explicitly address online voting, though section 18.1 does acknowledge the possibility of transition to an alternative voting process. 

The Elections Act specifically states the chief electoral officer is permitted to “carry out studies … respecting alternative voting processes, and may devise and test an alternative voting process for future use.” 

This section was further amended in 2014 to include that “such a process may not be used for an official vote … in the case of an alternative electronic voting process, without the prior approval of the Senate and the House of Commons.”

In 2009, the Toronto Star reported that Elections Canada was seeking parliamentary approval  to test e-voting in a by-election before 2013. The motion was backed by a survey that suggested online voting be the platform of preference for Canadian voters. The trial wasn’t widely backed by political candidates and never materialized.

The future of online voting in Canada now depends on the actions of Stéphane Perrault, who began his 10-year term as Chief Electoral Officer this past June.

Regardless of the structure of the coming federal election—October of 2019—it’s critical that eligible young voters cast a ballot. There’s plenty of time for new voters to get informed on the state of Canadian politics and international affairs, and become familiar with the platform and leader of each political party. 

With its accessibility, online ballots would accommodate and reward voters.

With its accessibility, online ballots would accommodate and reward voters.

While online voting practices bring the ballot box to the voter, they’re unlikely to be available for the next federal election. 

Voting is a crucial task for every Canadian citizen. For the time being, post-secondary students need to embrace traditional voting processes, get registered, band bring their vote to the ballot box.

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