Online voting option backed by B.C. cities

UBCM asks province to allow e-voting at civic level

Citizens may be able to remotely vote over the Internet to elect their mayor and council as early as 2014.

Union of B.C. Municipalities delegates voted by a two-to-one margin Wednesday to urge the province to lay the groundwork to allow online voting as an option three years from now.

Advocates of the idea say it could reverse a trend of sagging voter turnout, while detractors worry casting a ballot may no longer be secret, opening the door to vote-tampering by interest groups out to sway the result.

“We all have to acknowledge the fact society has changed,” said Coquitlam Coun. Linda Reimer, one of the delegates who voted in favour.

Just 20.5 per cent of Coquitlam voters turned out in the last election, she said, and the provincial average is 35 per cent for civic elections.

White Rock Coun. Lynne Sinclair dismissed another delegate’s suggestion many seniors aren’t tech-savvy and wouldn’t benefit.

She said one Ontario city that allows online voting found most users are seniors with mobility problems.

Others warned it’s too risky to end the long tradition of voting secretly in a ballot booth at an authorized polling place.

“Online voting is fraught with danger,” said Sunshine Coast Regional District director Donna Shugar.

“You don’t know who is in the room with a voter coercing or persuading them. We do not allow people to go in the polling booth with other people when they are voting.”

When the voting booth becomes your computer in your home, she said, such restrictions and safeguards will no longer exist.

“It’s too easy to hack a system,” added Fraser Valley Regional District director Wendy Bales, predicting the technology – if it backfires – may not strengthen democracy but further erode faith in the system.

Spallumcheen Mayor Will Hansma pointed to irregularities over online voting during the BC LIberal leadership vote earlier this year.

“I was busy so I phoned my wife, gave her my number and she voted for me,” Hansma said, adding there’s so far no technological solution available to block unauthorized voting or undue influence.

“This isn’t being forced on anyone,” countered Kelowna Coun. Kevin Craig. “If it’s not right for your community, you’re not being railroaded into it.”

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong has promised to pursue the idea, which would require a change of legislation and time to sort out the technological issues.

Another tradition that will definitely end in 2014 is November voting.

From that year on, local voting will happen in October.

The election date change was approved by the province in response to a UBCM vote a year ago.

UBCM had its own wrangle of electronic voting at the start of proceedings.

Delegates had been given electronic voting devices to vote on resolutions, but some questioned whether the wireless gadgets might let some vote from outside the hall – or even go golfing while other delegates vote for them. They were told it’s possible, but it would be wrong.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Glass of whiskey
UBCO substance use clinic goes virtual

The clinic is adapting the way it provides services as the pandemic continues

Exact numbers are not known for active cases in Golden. (File photo)
No cluster in Golden, according to Interior Health

Despite positive cases in the community, no cluster or outbreak has been declared by Interior Health

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

It’s important to be sure how to use your equipment appropriately when in the backcountry. (File photo)
Backcountry Safe seeks to start safety dialogue

The group is hoping that people will learn from their mistakes

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Penticton's Courthouse. (File)
Six months jail for robbing Okanagan cannabis dispensary

After time served, the 29-year-old has another month in prison

A semi truck blocks a single lane of traffic on Highway 6 near Kalamalka Lake Road in Vernon Thursday, Nov. 26. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Semi truck blocking single lane near Vernon

Incident near Kalamalka Lake Road delays westbound traffic

(Pixabay photo)
Company fined after worker falls through roof at Kelowna construction site

WorkSafeBC says no form of fall protection was used, resulting in serious injuries

COVID-19 signage outside the Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
22 COVID-19 cases reported in Revelstoke

Health Minister Adrian Dix made the announcement on Nov. 25

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Premier should reject Site C plan

There is still time to abandon the plan

Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”
Free ‘Hollywood Suite’ movies in December include ‘Keanussance’ titles starring Keanu Reeves

Also featured is the Israeli-made ‘Valley of Tears,’ a 10-part war drama

Dani Barker, originally from Salmon Arm, is working with others in the New York City film industry to bring a script she wrote to life as a feature film called Follow Her. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm woman’s movie thriller nearing completion, in need of backing

Dani Barker wrote and stars in Follow Her which wrapped filming in New York in February

Most Read