NEWS

Elections Canada Considers E-Voting For Federal By-Election

08/17/2011 02:58 EDT | Updated 10/17/2011 05:12 EDT
AP

OTTAWA - The next time Canadians go to the polls in a federal byelection, it could just mean booting up their computers.

Canada's chief electoral officer says he's committed to seeking approval for a test of Internet voting in a byelection held after 2013.

Marc Mayrand also says Elections Canada wants to expand other services offered online, such as voter registration.

In his official report on the May 2 federal election, Mayrand says it's clear Canadians are demanding more ease and flexibility when it comes to voting.

May's vote saw a record turnout at advance polls - even though they were held over the Easter holidays - as well as an increase in special ballots.

"The rigidity of the voting process is not only an inconvenience for electors, but is also expensive and, in some cases, inefficient," Mayrand wrote in a report released Wednesday.

"As Elections Canada looks to improving the range and quality of services to electors, it also needs to explore more efficient processes for conducting the vote."

The report also says Elections Canada has no information to suggest there was widespread flouting of a rule that prohibits publishing election results in areas where the polls are still open.

A social media campaign held on voting day had encouraged people to break the rule, arguing that the Internet age makes such a ban archaic.

Mayrand agrees.

"The growing use of social media puts in question not only the practical enforceability of the rule, but also its very intelligibility and usefulness in a world where the distinction between private communication and public transmission is quickly eroding," he wrote.

"The time has come for Parliament to consider revoking the current rule."

The preliminary cost of the May 2 election, which returned the Conservatives to power with a majority, was $291 million.

A majority government allows the agency some breathing room.

Needing to be constantly prepared for an election after the 2008 minority government cost Elections Canada $30 million.

"With the election of a majority government and the end of successive minority governments, we now have the opportunity to focus on longer-term priorities and improvements for the 42nd general election in October 2015."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story erroneously reported the election date as June 2.