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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Toronto Star - July 14, 2004
This is my letter to the editor as published under the title "Electronic voting not always better".

I thought Aparita Bhandari's article 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.

In Ireland, problems with voting machines were so severe that country shelved its 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.

They took out the reference to Paper Vote Canada :(
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