Monday, June 11, 2007
I bank online. I shop online. I read the newspaper online. I vote online... that is, I would if I lived in Markham.
I've been excited about the possibility of online voting over the internet since I saw it at an FCM trade show a few years ago. I've brought the idea forwardto committee to see what we could do to make this available here in Grande Prairie. Unfortunately the Province of Alberta act that governs municipalities (the Municipal Government Act or MGA) doesn't allow online voting yet. There was a review of the act which recommended adding that ability but not until after the 2007 municipal elections.
Markham, Ontario had internet voting in their 2006 municipal election. The city even set up a special website that helped residents understand internet voting and explained the "how-to's". After people voted they were asked to complete a short survey about the experience, some of the key findings from the post vote survey:
"- 91 per cent of those who voted online said they would be "very likely" to vote online in the future.
- One in five (21 per cent) Markham online voters said they did not vote at all in the 2003 municipal election.
- 88 per cent of online voters in 2006 cite "convenience" as their primary reason for voting online
- Markham saw online voting jump 48 per cent from 7,210 in 2003 to 10,639 online ballots cast in 2006.
- This contributed to an overall 2006 voter turnout of 37.6 per cent, well above the typical turnout of 28 per cent for a municipal election.".
So until Alberta catches up, residents here can only read media releases like this one and wonder if it would improve voter turn out in our local elections.