The anti-Internet voting activists are hard at work to preserve the status quo and scare politicians and Secretaries of State. They use papers and presentations to convince those who are responsible for elections in the American States and Canadian municipalities to believe “never is too soon” for Internet voting. As discussed in detail in Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy, all we need is the political and technological will to have private, secure, verifiable, and convenient voting using blockchain technology and mobile phones. For those who do not want to vote with the Internet, limited polling place options and assistance at local libraries can be made available.
The Canadian government is the latest to cave in to fear and recommend against Internet voting for the Federal elections. However, 97 communities out of 414 municipalities have used Internet voting. Leamington, Ontario, population approximately 28,000, provided Internet voting as the only option in the 2014 municipal election. There were no paper ballots. The city of Guelph, a vibrant community of over 120,000 people situated in the heart of southern Ontario, had strong support for Internet voting. Progressive politicians there felt it was convenient for people with disabilities, shift workers, busy families and those who travel and couldn’t vote in person on election day. They argued Internet voting could take place at all hours of the day and night. Apparently Canada is seeing the same thing we see in America: millions of people not voting because they could not get to the polling place for numerous reasons.
Even though 13,000 citizens voted online in 2014 without any problems, leaders in Guelph who are scared of fraud and hacking have voted to remove the Internet voting option for 2018. They are afraid of Internet voting, but they tolerate the notoriously inaccurate Municipal Property Assessment Corporation voter registration lists which are distributed to municipalities. One official said, “It’s an atrocious voters’ list. No identification is required to get on the MPAC voter list. It’s susceptible to fraud. You could register your cat.”
Mobile Internet voting is going to happen. The only question is when. Momentum is picking up around the world. Vendors have developed secure and private solutions. States and municipalities should get competitive bids from multiple vendors and demand the level of security and verifiability they are comfortable with, instead of running away from the issue of so many who don’t vote. In the American 2012 and 2016 elections, approximately 100 million people who could have voted did not. We can do better.