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Friday, September 24, 2004

technophilic municipalities

Canadian municipalities seem to love the siren call of techno-fixes. Efficiency will result! Services enhanced! Customer (that is, citizen) satisfaction metrics improved!

There's something called MISA, the Municipal Information Systems Association of Ontario.

They published a report in 2002, Progress Report on e-Government Among Ontario Municipalities (PDF)

In Chapter 2: Municipal Progress In e-Government they describe a future that obviously sounds wonderful to them

What will municipalities be like in Ontario within the next decade?

...

Municipalities will be more responsive to citizens.

...

Voting in elections or other special occasions will consist of quick, effortless clicks on computer screens. Voter turnout will no longer plummet when it rains or snows.

Voting is a civic duty. You want to make voting no different than clicking in some online poll? One minute I'm buying a book on Amazon, next I'm answering a Globe poll Does shopping on-line still make you nervous? and with the next click I'm electing the leaders of my country? You really don't think there should be any distinction between those activities?

The new Municipal Elections Act, 1996 opened the door to the use of new technology in the municipal election process. For the first time, Ontario municipalities could explore new voting technologies, including voting by telephone, touch screen voting and the use of optical scanners to speed the counting process.

Ok well at least I know where this foolishness started. Now to see about closing that door.

I don't get this obsession with the speed of the counting. We can't wait a day or two for the results to be counted? Ontario will spiral into chaos if we don't get the election decision seconds after the polls close? Wouldn't you rather have a cheap, accurate and relatively quick system rather than an instantaneous incorrect one?

(Progress report link found in Municipalities move to second-gen portals to provide citizen e-services, Technology in Government, May/June 2004.)
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