OPINION: Nicole Goodman discusses Canadians’ ability to impact online voting standards

Brock University Associate Professor of Political Science Nicole Goodman wrote a piece recently published in the Ottawa Citizen about how Canadians can shape the path forward on online voting.

She writes:

“If you live in Ontario, you’ve likely had a chance to vote online. In the 2022 municipal elections, a majority of municipalities in the province — 222 —  offered online ballots in local elections.

Ottawa and Toronto haven’t offered this option yet. Still, between use in Ontario and Nova Scotia, Canada is one of the biggest deployers of online voting worldwide. But we’ve fallen behind in regulating its deployment — until now.

In an age when elections are becoming increasingly digitized, the implementation of standards to guide election-technology deployment is crucial to both mitigate technical incidents and the accusations of them — a phenomenon we’ve seen in the United States with false claims about voting tabulators. While standards cannot prevent allegations or incidents, they can act as an important safeguard.

Other countries with less or no use of online voting have regulations, standards or guidelines in place for deploying this technology. In Canada, things have started to shift with Elections Northwest Territories recently developing regulations for online voting systems in its territorial elections. Likewise, after more than two decades of use at the local level, a group of scholars, private companies, municipal administrators, electoral management body (EMB) representatives and other experts have been working with the Digital Governance Standards Institute (DGSI) to develop standards for online voting in municipal elections.

The standard — whose vision is to both improve the deployment of online elections locally and to provide a baseline upon which Canada’s provincial, territorial and national election management bodies can develop online voting standards for future higher-level elections — is currently open for public comment until Feb. 28. This opportunity for public engagement presents Canada and Canadians with the chance to shape the path forward for online voting.”

Continue reading the full article on the Ottawa Citizen website.

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