10/23/2013 16:35 EDT | Updated 12/23/2013 05:12 EST

Online voting gets thumbs down from Elections BC

An independent panel struck by Elections BC last year to review the possibility of internet voting is recommending against the move today.

In a preliminary report released on Wednesday, the five-member Independent Panel on Internet Voting says that "the most significant potential benefit of internet voting is increased accessibility and convenience for B.C. voters."

But it also concludes there are also significant downsides.

"It is important to understand that although the internet is used for an increasing number of interactions... with their own risks, voting over the internet has a set of unique challenges that inevitably introduce a number of additional risks," the report states.

According to Elections BC's Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer, preliminary findings do not suggest that internet voting would increase voter turnout, a suggestion often put forward by supporters of the move to online.

"It's sometimes thought that internet voting is going to increase the voting turnout amongst young voters, and again the evidence doesn't bear that out. The data revealed that the voters most likely to use the internet voting option are middle aged and older voters," he says.

The report concludes that voting online should not be universally implemented any time soon, though in specific cases right now it could be limited to voters with accessibility issues. It also states that there should be a "province-wide coordinated approach" to implement a new system.

The public can submit feedback on the preliminary report until Dec. 4, and the final report is anticipated to reach the legislative assembly by spring 2014.