Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I'm not sure composing letters to the editor at 1 AM is such a good idea, but anyway, here's the letter I just sent to the Star.

I thought Aparita Bhandari's article "Is the future in line or online?" presented a very good overview of the Canadian electronic voting situation and the issues associated with electronic voting.

Voting is at the core of our democratic process. It is critical that our voting procedures be completely transparent. Our system of paper ballots that are hand-counted in the presence of scrutineers is simple, yet provides rapid and verifiable results.

The key is not to assume that new technology is somehow inherently better. The key is *appropriate technology*. For voting, paper and pen in public is the correct combination of technologies.

I have been monitoring the worldwide news about voting machines on my weblog, Paper Vote Canada, http://blog.papervotecanada.ca/ and again and again I have seen reports of problems. In Ireland, the issues raised were so severe that they shelved their plans for e-voting for the time being. In California, there is a huge legal fight to try to at least provide a paper trail from the electronic voting machines.

It is a bit ridiculous to create elaborate (and expensive) electronic voting machines, and then to have to retrofit paper audit trails onto them. In Canada we already have a paper-based system that works extremely well.

If we want to increase voter participation, one approach would be to have mandatory voting as in Australia, another would be simply to find more ways to engage apathetic voters.
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