A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Elections Canada Report

I will briefly return from my summer hiatus to bring a couple of things to your attention, first up a few things from the recent report by Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand. 
Much has been said in the past about the cost of an 'unnecessary' Election when it seems that some use this as an excuse to NOT hold the government of the day to account by going to the people before the next scheduled date, well folks at a cost of just $12 per person it seems to me that taxpayer cost is NOT a factor in such decisions. The now defunct per vote 'subsidy' was minuscule by comparison but I am sure that Harper will find a way to also cut the budget of Elections Canada to his advantage. I suspect that the cost to political partys and their supporters, particularly that spent on negative TV advertising, is much more of a factor. Unfortunately such choices are no longer available federally.
With the Ontario election period not even started yet we have already been bombarded with negative ads (supposedly from 'citizen groups') the cost of which must run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Seems the success of such tactics by the Harper regime has been taken note of by the provincial back room boys!!

The second piece of news is the ongoing study of moving towards on line (and / or other electronic voting methods) for the next federal election. Much has been said on both sides of this debate both in regards to federal election as well as provincial and municipal elections, I will not repeat it all here. I will however say this:- I believe it is inevitable, will indeed increase the citizen participation particularly amongst the 'younger' crowd and a secure COMMON system should be developed for all such elections. That said there is, as I see it, one major hurdle to be crossed that being 'verifiability', the ability to do a recount of the votes in the event of any problem (or perceived problem) with the software, hardware or personnel involved, and I do mean the actual votes NOT what the computer SAYS are the votes. This all goes to our confidence that the system cannot be corrupted and that our votes are indeed counted as cast. Perhaps some kind of computer receipt that can be recast in the event of problems or other feedback mechanism can be designed. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this initiave.

And lastly Elections Canada has also released the official poll by poll results of the 2011 federal election for those that wish to see where withing their riding they won or lost support, not that it will have a lot of validity in either the upcoming provincial election or the next federal election some 4 years up the road. Available at http://www.elections.ca/scripts/ovr2011/default.html

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the end, a key component of any online voting scheme is trusted hardware to place the vote on. Current PCs can in no way come up to that standard.

One solution is general purpose PCs like Google's Chromebook, except a widespread legal mandate for that kind of computer is dangerous. Trusted computing can very easily become treacherous computing, especially when such computing becomes widespread and commonly used. This sort of thing needs to be left up to the market.

Another solution is for Elections Canada to provide a trusted device to every elector. The device would need its own display and would provide cryptographic security to validate the vote. However, big problems include people losing theirs over the course of 4 years, and that they'll definitely cost more than $12/voter.

Paper is just better and cheaper. Mail-in ballots, especially by Canadians in foreign countries, might be greatly improved by online voting though. There's fewer of these voters, and the benefits are greater for them. Elections Canada could even trial potential systems with this group over decades until they think they have it right.