POLITICS

Leamington to offer online voting while other municipalities show mixed results

08/13/2013 04:17 EDT | Updated 10/13/2013 05:12 EDT
LEAMINGTON, Ont. - A southwestern Ontario town will be offering the option of online voting in this fall's municipal election.

Leamington Mayor John Paterson says a report to council shows voter turnouts of up to 60 per cent in municipalities that have gone to online voting.

But a report released by Elections Ontario says there is no conclusive evidence that network voting will improve voter turnout.

The June 2013 report examining some of the problems and advantages on network voting technologies says that in 2010, 44 of 444 municipalities in the province offered voting by phone or Internet or both for their municipal elections.

In Huntsville, Ont., the report says the town will return to paper ballots after attempting network voting in their 2010 election.

Huntsville Mayor Claude Doughty says he's still open to trying a similar system in the future if the technology improves but he wasn't satisfied that the election was "as tight as it could be," with technical problems and security concerns being the main issues.

The report also says that at a recent proposal to use network voting in the 2014 election in Vaughan was rejected due to security concerns as well as "little evidence to prove increased voter turnout."

In Stratford's 2010 election, Internet and telephone voting put a high demand on servers that resulted in a slowed delivery service and the extension of voting time.

But Doughty says that there were a lot of big advantages to the new system — since Huntsville is a tourist area they have a lot of seasonal residents who haven't had a chance to vote in quite a while.

"For our non-residents to be able to vote was a huge thing," Doughty says.

Doughty also points out that paper ballots aren't necessarily secure, with some people voting by proxy. "It's not as though the old system is perfect either."

Now that Leamington council has given the green light to online voting, Paterson says the town should save up to $10,000 on the next vote.

(The Canadian Press, CKLW)