OUR VIEW: Internet voting not something to be rushed

The B.C. provincial election is scheduled for 2013 but that might not be the best time to introduce online voting.

Some people are concerned with voter apathy leading up to the B.C. provincial election, which is tentatively set for May of 2013.

According to reports, the last provincial election, which occurred in 2009, saw 50 per cent of eligible voters turning out to polling stations – although if people knew that the ensuing Harmonized Sales Tax kerfuffle would take place later with the winning B.C. Liberals, maybe more would’ve cast their ballots.

The numbers from 2009 were significantly lower than the 2005 election stats, which showed 58 per cent turning out to vote.

In contrast, reports indicate that 61.1 per cent of British Columbians went to polling stations to vote for the 2011 federal election.

A way to get more people to vote, including those of younger generations, is online voting and it is something the province is looking at.

B.C. Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond wrote an opinion-editorial piece stating that many British Columbians are connected to the Internet and have high-speed access.

With that in mind, she requested that Elections BC assemble a panel to look at online voting in B.C.

She said that the province knows that voting via the Internet could increase voting number but the province would proceed cautiously.

While it might be tempting for some to hope that the panel will proceed quickly in time for the 2013 election, Bond is right to be cautious.

Internet voting doesn’t have to be in place for the next election and in fact, it’s probably better if it isn’t.

Internet technology is advancing with many now banking and making purchases online and there is probably the technology available to have online voting in place for 2013 but one need only look to another online government project that went horribly wrong.

The B.C. Lottery Corporation launched an online gambling website in July 2010 but had to shutdown shortly after due to security issues.

According to reports, the personal information of over 130 people was compromised, not something you want from a website that deals with transactions and sums of money.

Thankfully, Bond says security and privacy are something the panel will examine.

Having more people interested in provincial politics is a good thing and online voting is a way to increase voting but it’s not the be all and end all.

Better to have a product that has been thoroughly tested and examined for future elections than one that has been rushed for 2013.

– The Grand Forks Gazette

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