Online voting is increasingly becoming an important part of the democratic process, but a Brock University professor says more should be done to standardize the practice across the country.
Assistant Professor of Political Science Nicole Goodman co-authored a piece in The Conversation Monday with Western University Computer Science Assistant Professor Aleksander Essex. In light of Ontario’s difficulties with online voting in the recent municipal elections, the two are calling on the federal government to develop online voting standards.
“While the Ontario election should not prompt a call to remove municipal autonomy over elections, an opportunity has presented itself to have a wider discussion about devising a Canadian version of guidelines for online voting implementation,” they wrote.
Goodman says online voting is crucial for those living in rural and remote areas and those living outside of their community.
“As our society lives online more, it may be that voting online is increasingly important for retaining current voters,” she says.
But in last month’s municipal elections in Ontario, there were significant delays for voters in 51 of the 194 municipalities that had online voting as an option.
Goodman and Essex are proposing guidelines similar to those found in the U.S. and Europe which would provide voluntary standards on technical, operational and legal aspects of online voting.
“If the Ontario election glitches don’t underscore the pressing need and importance of such a resource, growth in online voting should,” they wrote, pointing out that online voting has grown from being offered in three per cent of municipalities to 44 per cent in the past 15 years.
The guidelines being recommended would be applicable to all elections and votes and would boost technical knowledge in municipalities and Indigenous communities across Canada.