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.
- Jim DeLaHunt
Director, Fair Voting BC
- Antony Hodgson
President, Fair Voting BC
- 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.