Canadian’s have been patiently waiting since 2015 to hear if the Liberal government will be moving forward with mandating both online and mandatory voting, and the answer has come back as no.
The Liberal’s brought the idea up in their campaign in 2015, suggesting that it could be beneficial to the country to add both new expansions, and when Trudeau was elected, they created a task force to decide whether the idea would be helpful or not. However, MP’s on the special committee decided that online security was too much of a risk to implement online voting and;
“While Canadians feel that online voting in federal elections would have a positive effect on voter turnout, their support is contingent on assurances that online voting would not result in increased security risks,” Gould wrote.
Australia has had mandatory voting since 1924, and if you don’t vote you have to pay a $20 fine. Their last election had a turnout of 95%.
According to the advisor who originally wrote the paper suggesting both online and mandatory voting, the turnout for the last Ontario election was a measly 52.1% of eligible voters. It goes to show the amount of Canadian’s that are just not interested in voting, even though Canada is more than a two party system. He also suggested a preferential ballot, which means that you list your first, second and third pick, and the candidate that gets more than 50% of the vote wins.
“I’m pushing mandatory voting and preferential ballots so that citizens don’t see democratic reform just as reforming institutions, but they see it as something that belongs to us and if we don’t take care of it like anything else in our lives … it will just fall apart,” Asselin said in an interview.
For the people who are concerned about hacking, it seems like as long as you have the proper measures in place, it would be easy to screen for and prevent hacking. They also never said they would completely take away manual voting, just add in the option for online voting. Something that has been pointed out is that no one is worried about how you can file income tax online, which contains much more private information than voting, but online voting has suddenly become a privacy issue?
However, the Liberal government has stated that they will try and make other changes to keep voters interested and voting accessible, but they haven’t listed what they are at this time. They’ve stated that encouraging voter turnout is important, and they are committed to bettering the voting numbers. Currently, there is a motion in parliament that would allow people to use the voter information card as valid ID at the polling station, but it has not yet passed.
The addition, online voting would have been hugely beneficial for all Canadian’s, but especially for rural Canadian’s, who live too far away from voting stations. Disabled Canadian’s are also disenfranchised by having to physically go to polling stations, that might be inaccessible or too hard to reach. It would even be beneficial even for people without the internet as online polling stations could be set up at libraries, which are also accessible for disabled people to access.
It’s extremely disappointing to hear that it’s off the table at this time, especially after almost two years of waiting to hear what was going to happen. Hopefully, the Liberal’s have some strong plans to engage voters in the works, because right now, lots of Canadian’s are extremely disappointed.