Election Canada proposes online voting for 2013


Going to the polls might just mean booting up your computer during the next federal byelection, Elections Canada says.

Marc Mayrand, Canada’s chief electoral officer, says he will be seeking approval to test internet voting in a federal byelection held in 2013.

In his report on the May 2 federal election, Mayrand said Canadians have made it clear they want to making voting easier — and it doesn’t get much easier than voting on your home computer.

Canadians “live in a world replete with electronic services and increasingly expect a range of options that provide them with more flexibility and accommodate their busy schedules,” he said.

About 62 per cent of Canadians voted in the last federal election, a slight uptick from the 2008 election. However, that is still down significantly from the 70 per cent mark that used to be the norm before the 1990s. In 1958, 79.4 per cent of Canadians voted.

“Three factors stop electors from voting: apathy, inconvenience and administrative barriers. Apathy is a societal issue largely beyond Elections Canada’s control,” the report said.

More Canadians than ever voted at advance polls this May.

“They appear to regard advance voting days as simply additional days to vote, no different from election day,” said the report.

The report also strongly suggested the Elections Canada Act should be revised to incorporate the impact modern communication tools such as Facebook and Twitter have on the election.

Currently, the Elections Canada Act does not allow the premature reporting of election results in one part of the country to another part. However, because of social networking that rule is no longer easily enforced.

“The growing use of social media puts in question not only the practical enforceability of the rule, but also its very intelligibility and usefulness in a world where the distinction between private communication and public transmission is quickly eroding. The time has come for Parliament to consider revoking the current rule,” the report said.

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