BY NICOLE NEMETH
Cambridge residents may have an easier time voting than Kitchener residents during this year’s municipal election. This is because Cambridge has become the first municipality in the region to offer online voting.
The Centre for e-Democracy has commissioned a project to research the impact of digital technology on electoral democracy by collecting data during the 2014 municipal election to learn how Internet voting impacts local elections.
Titled the Internet Voting Project, the centre hopes that by collecting this information they will be able to learn what impact, if any, Internet voting has on voter turnout, if it will encourage non-voters to participate, make the election process more efficient and what the impacts of Internet ballots on election costs are, among other things.
Unfortunately, Kitchener has decided against participating in the research project.
According to an article in The Record published Dec. 10, 2012, Randy Gosse, Kitchener’s director of legislated services, told city councillors that now is not the time for online voting because it does not increase voter turnout, but increases costs.
However, on the Elections Canada website it states that the cost of electronic voting may be more costly in the beginning stages, but many of the companies responsible for running electronic elections claim they can possibly save the jurisdictions that use their services a large sum of money over the long term.
For example, a municipal election can cost anywhere from $4 to $6 per eligible voter through the traditional paper ballot system, whereas the standard rate worldwide is approximately $2 per elector for the electronic voting system. Voter turnout has been steadily declining since the early 1990s. Voters between the ages of 18 and 24 are the least likely to vote.
Since the younger generation is dependent on their electronic devices – computers and smart phones – it only makes sense to allow them to vote in ways they are comfortable with and more likely to do.
In today’s society we are not only incredibly busy but are also much more likely to participate in something if it’s easy and convenient. It only makes sense to make electronic voting available to everyone in the region.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.