THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay is looking at adding online voting to the next civic election. It is a fantastic idea that could assist in making our democracy more engaging. As the technology continues to evolve, the move by City Administration toward adopting the future is a positive one.
Do you shop online? Do Internet banking? Use your smart phone? If you are reading this article chances are you are part of the connected generation. Voter turnout in the last Thunder Bay Civic election was well under 40%. That means six out of ten voters simply didn’t bother to vote.
The Future is coming – Thunder Bay needs to be there
With online and telephone voting those numbers could climb. That would help our democracy. It could also, once a system were set up, allow future City Councils to do surveys on issues to gather public input.
It is likely there will be some in the community who will fight the idea. All new innovations are, to some in Thunder Bay something to fear and fight against.
The issue of a secure vote is key to our democracy. A secure electronic voting system would be a great way to secure not only more voters, but also could be far more secure.
There have been cases where corruption has marred elections. Stuffing a paper ballot box has been done. Electronic voting with a properly designed system. Simply Voting offers a computerized program for voting.
Voters arrive at your branded voting website and authenticate their identity with their numeric password. The voter will be presented with a list of any ongoing elections. If the voter hasn’t yet voted, he may click on the election and a tamper-proof electronic ballot will appear. When he submits a ballot, the results are encrypted and kept anonymous. The voter is issued a receipt and is now blocked from voting for this election again. As voting proceeds Simply Voting staff will report on mid-election turnout upon request.
Voters call a dedicated toll-free or local number and are prompted to authenticate their identity. The voter enters his numeric password using a touch-tone dialpad and the system checks whether he has not yet voted. If that is the case, the voter is prompted to select from the options of each question, one question at a time, and finally to confirm his choices. When he confirms a ballot, the results are encrypted and stored anonymously. The voter is issued a receipt (accessible only online) and is now blocked from voting for this election again. Since Simply Voting never allows a voter to vote twice, telephone voting may proceed at the same time as web voting.
It is possible that an election can have voter fraud. That has been happening in elections since the earliest days. Stuffing a ballot box, refusing people at the polling station, and making it hard to vote can all help rig an election.
Electronic voting, and online voting is the next logical step in the evolution of our democracy.
It all comes down to Thunder Bay making choices. We can move into the future, or we can fight to maintain the past.
My vote is for the future.