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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

in which I help the news media

1) Delvinia releases a report

"Our latest DIG report examines the Town of Markham’s experience with Internet voting in the 2003, 2006 and 2010 municipal election"

http://www.delvinia.com/delvinia-releases-dig-report-on-edemocracy-and-citizen-engagement/

This is good.
In 2010, with the support of Ryerson University, Delvinia secured an Engage Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to commission Nicole Goodman, a PhD candidate specializing in Canadian political institutions and alternative voting methods, to provide a scholarly perspective on the data collected following the 2010 election as well as a comparison to the data Delvinia collected in the 2003 and 2006 elections.
It is also excellent to see academic research in this field and a rigorous report.

2) However
The DIG report is available online at www.delvinia.com/dig. The full research report is available for purchase through Delvinia. Please refer to our order form to obtain a copy of the report.
from http://www.delvinia.com/delvinia-releases-dig-report-on-edemocracy-and-citizen-engagement/

So objective fact 1: Delvinia is selling the full report.

3) However
In addition to helping the Town raise awareness of Internet voting in the 2003, 2006 and 2010 municipal elections, Delvinia also conducted in-person and online surveys to collect data regarding public attitudes, feelings and beliefs toward Internet voting in each of those elections.
from http://www.delvinia.com/should-canadians-have-the-opportunity-to-vote-online/

So objective fact 2: Delvinia was paid by the City of Markham to promote Internet voting in 2003, 2006 and 2010 (the same years in the same city concerning the same topic that the newly-released evoting report covers).

4) The correct way to report this, providing the full context, would be

Delvinia, a company paid by the City of Markham to promote Internet voting in 2003, 2006 and 2010, is now selling a detailed report about Internet voting in Markham.  The report concludes Internet voting was a great success.

I am not criticising Delvinia or the report, I am just stating the objective facts of the context of the report.

So I will now help some news reporting organisations.

This is what the Star wrote
Internet voting in advance polls in Markham has helped increase overall voter turnout, engage non-voters to vote and greatly improve overall voter satisfaction, according to a research and public opinion report released Monday.

In the report by Delvinia, a digital strategy firm, voter turnout in Markham has increased by 35 per cent since the introduction of Internet voting in 2003, and much of that is attributed to the advent of online voting.
http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1059558

You may note that neither in this extract nor indeed anywhere in the entire article does it mention the context I provided above.  The article with context would be
Internet voting in advance polls in Markham has helped increase overall voter turnout, engage non-voters to vote and greatly improve overall voter satisfaction, according to a research and public opinion report released Monday.

In the report by Delvinia, a digital strategy firm, voter turnout in Markham has increased by 35 per cent since the introduction of Internet voting in 2003, and much of that is attributed to the advent of online voting.  Delvinia, a company paid by the City of Markham to promote Internet voting in 2003, 2006 and 2010, is now selling a detailed report about Internet voting in Markham.
This is what IT World Canada wrote
New data culled from Markham, Ont. voters could make a case for the introduction of Internet voting across all levels of government in Canada, according to a new report from user experience design firm Delvinia

The Toronto-based digital consultancy released the findings of its eDemocracy and Citizen Engagement report on Monday, which focused on the Town of Markham’s recent online voting initiatives. The municipality has offered online voting for its local elections since 2003.
http://www.itworldcanada.com/news/e-voting-gets-almost-unanimous-praise-study-finds/144015

And here, again, is the article with the actual full context added
New data culled from Markham, Ont. voters could make a case for the introduction of Internet voting across all levels of government in Canada, according to a new report from user experience design firm Delvinia

The Toronto-based digital consultancy released the findings of its eDemocracy and Citizen Engagement report on Monday, which focused on the Town of Markham’s recent online voting initiatives. The municipality has offered online voting for its local elections since 2003.  Delvinia, a company paid by the City of Markham to promote Internet voting in 2003, 2006 and 2010, is now selling a detailed report about Internet voting in Markham.
I want to be completely up-front: I am profoundly disappointed that major Canadian news media are not providing the full context of this report.  I expect the news media to provide context for ANY press release, announcement, speech, interview or think-tank report.  Information without context is no foundation for democracy.

UPDATE: I should also mention, in case you think this is a minor nuance on an obscure story buried in the back pages of the paper, that "Online voting changes the game" was the Toronto Star's front-page, above-the-fold, banner full-width headline story for Monday September 26, 2011.  In newspaper terms, they declared it the single most important story in the world for September 26, 2011.

Comments:
I see that Delvinia is charging $4,995 for a copy of the report. From their website:

"For more information and to order a copy of this report, please contact Adam Froman at afroman@delvinia.com or call 416.364.1455
$4,995 plus HST"

Wow
 
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