I was really disappointed last week.
At the regular Government Services committee meeting we received a response from the Minister of Municipal Affairs to our request asking him allow Grande Prairie to utilize internet voting in the 2010 municipal election. His response in the official letter to the City was very similar to the email he sent me:
"Dear Mr. Given:
Thank you for your recent e-mail confirming that the City of Grande Prairie is offering to be a pilot site for internet voting for the 2010 general municipal elections conducted under the Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA).
To confirm our discussions and followup letter to your mayor, at this point in time, internet voting is not permitted under the LAEA, but there is an ability to pass a regulation allowing an elected authority to prescribe a system for the conduct and procedure of an election or vote not provided for in the LAEA. If the city was interested in pursuing alternative voting, a business case would have to be presented to request internet voting. The business case would need to address the pertinent issues, such as the need for internet voting in the city, who is the licensed provider, how is security guaranteed, how is voter validation dealt with, what are the costs, how are results verified and recounts conducted.
I understand you have provided a contact with a company that may be supplying internet voting services to the city. For the ministry to review your request, the city needs to present a written business case addressing the potential security, privacy, validation and process issues that may arise as a consequence of implementing internet voting methods.
Once we have received the information from the city on the process issues noted above and anticipated costs, we will further review your request.
The Minister's response isn't what I was disappointed in, after all he's basically asking for more info which is reasonable. This idea is gaining steam, Grande Prairie had resolution adopted by the AUMA in 2007 and now it looks like Edmonton is catching on to the idea (from this article you'd think it was their idea). This will be reality eventually and the Minister wants to cover all the bases, that's fair.
Anyways, what disappointed me was what happened when I tried to move the process along.
The short version of the story is: I made a motion asking administration to come up with a plan on how we could put together a business case, including what it would cost to do so. The Mayor spoke against my motion saying that it would be an example of provincial downloading. The vote was called on my motion, Mayor Logan & Alderman Minhas voted against it while Alderman Rice and myself voted for it - and on a 50/50 tie, the motion was defeated.
So the request to check in to what it might cost to build a business plan to submit to the Minister died right there. Right after the meeting I was very disappointed and confused. I couldn't understand why the two other committee members would vote against an idea that:
A) didn't cost us anything
B) could have helped us build a case that would encourage the province to pick up part of the costs of an internet vote
So anyways, my mood right then is probably what caused me to sound so fatalistic in the newspaper interview.
But, upon reflection... I've decided not to give up.