B.C. voters may soon have e-voting option

The government of B.C. is debating whether electronic (online) voting would bolster shrinking turnout rates for provincial elections.

Elections BC and the provincial government are considering e-voting for upcoming elections.

It’s a fact: voter turnout is always low.

Whether it’s a federal election, or next year’s looming provincial election British Columbia, governments are always looking to bolster rates. In that vein, Victoria says it wants to introduce Internet balloting – known as e-voting – for both provincial and local elections.

However, it’s unlikely the option will be available for voters before the 2013 election, says the Huffington Post.

“If the independent panel determines we can maintain the utmost electoral integrity, I’m optimistic Internet voting could increase accessibility for British Columbians to participate in the democratic process,” said B.C.’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond, in a written statement published by CTV.

However, there are many who doubt the effect e-voting will have.

“It’s not the solution to low turnout,” said Dr. Jon Pammett, a political scientist professor at Carleton University, in a Globe and Mail article on Friday.

However, there’s a reason governments are searching for a solution.

In the 2009 provincial election, only 51 per cent of voters cast ballots. That was down from 58 per cent in 2005. Meanwhile, only 61 per cent voted in the 2011 federal election.

According to the CBC, online voting options already exist for municipal elections in Halifax, N.S. and Markham, Ont.

“Turnout isn’t the only potential benefit of internet voting,” B.C. electoral officer Nola Western told the CBC. “It certainly would help accessibility, especially for voters with disabilities.”

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by Kolby Solinsky

*contributing editor for the Cloverdale Reporter