Fair Voting BC Cautions Vancouver on E-Voting Proposal

Fair Voting BC Gives City Yellow Light on E-Voting Proposal Due to Security and Transparency Concerns

In response to Tuesday’s announcement that Vancouver will ask the province for permission to conduct an internet voting trial in the fall municipal elections, Fair Voting BC is giving the city a yellow light.

“We applaud the city for seeking to increase voter participation and believe that online voting will come,” said Antony Hodgson, President of Fair Voting BC.  “However, for elections to be recognized by the public as legitimate, we have to know that the voting process is transparent.  Voters should not be asked to trust a system they cannot monitor.  That’s why we have scrutineers in our current system.”

“With today’s online voting systems, you send your vote into the ether”, said Jim DeLaHunt, a director with Fair Voting BC and a computer scientist with 25 years experience. “With no paper ballot, there’s no way to check that the system recorded your vote properly.  Since all votes go through a central software system, they are vulnerable to bugs and tampering.  Is it really so unimaginable that, with control over the city’s $1B annual budget at stake, election software employees won’t be vulnerable to bribes?”

“The principle of a secret ballot is also at risk.  Voting is not like online banking,” said DeLaHunt. “With online banking, your transactions are secure but not secret. You can see that your bank processed them properly. But with voting, neither the government nor the software providers should know how you voted.”

DeLaHunt added that Fair Voting BC’s concerns echo those of professional computer scientists:  “The internet has the potential to transform democracy in many ways, but permitting it to be used for public elections without assurance that the results are verifiably accurate is an extraordinary and unnecessary risk to democracy,” declared the Verified Voting organization.

DeLaHunt plans to pursue discussions with the city’s Chief Electoral Officer, city councilors and Minister Chong to ensure that the requirements will address Fair Voting BC’s concerns.  Fair Voting BC also plans to approach other cities, such as Surrey, which are considering online voting.

Contact Information:

Background:

  • Fair Voting BC is a non-profit society which works to promote fair, accountable and transparent democratic processes at all levels of government in BC.  We served as the official proponents in the 2009 BC-STV referendum campaign.
  • Jim DeLaHunt is a Vancouver software consultant with 25 years experience, including 16 with Adobe Systems in Silicon Valley. He holds an MSc degree in computer science from Stanford University and has been studying the e-voting issue for nearly 10 years.  Antony Hodgson is a mechanical engineering professor at UBC and has served as a director with Fair Voting BC since the 2005 BC-STV referendum.  He became president in 2009.
Advertisements

One thought on “Fair Voting BC Cautions Vancouver on E-Voting Proposal

  1. On May 27th, the Georgia Straight reported that the province had declined Vancouver’s request (see http://www.straight.com/article-395269/vancouver/bc-rejects-online-voting-vancouver-fall-election), though Councilor Andrea Reimer said that the province is “committed to working with the city to see the changes enacted in time for civic elections in 2014.” For the record, Fair Voting BC remains supportive of efforts to develop technologies which could facilitate online voting as long as our fundamental concerns about transparency to non-expert scrutineers and freedom from tampering and cyberattacks are able to be addressed. At this time, we regard it as somewhat unlikely that the requisite advances will be realized and available prior to 2014.

Comments are closed.