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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

#ERRE witness positions on online voting

These are the positions of witnesses before the Special Committee on Electoral Reform (ERRE) about online voting, based on their testimony.
Only witnesses with testimony posted online are listed in the table; more will be added as testimony is made available.

First name Last name Role / Position Credentials Position on online voting Quote(s) Date
Maryam Monsef Minister of Democratic Institutions Supportive but concerned about security Online voting and similar reforms that embrace the technological advances we have today should be seen as ways to increase participation by removing barriers that may exist for some Canadians.

At all times, though, there should always be a balance between the security and the integrity of the voting process.
July 6, 2016
Marc Mayrand Chief Electoral Officer of Canada more research needs to be done I have no plans to introduce online voting for 2019. ... I think there's still a lot of research to be done, and there are many considerations... social acceptability, security, and vulnerability July 7, 2016
Jean-Pierre Kingsley Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, 1990-2007 Supportive but concerned about security The analogy with online purchasing and banking—and I heard the arguments this morning—is flawed. The argument is flawed, and Marc Mayrand answered that question. Banks and other institutions hedge the risk and they remove the risk, at least most of the time, from the individual. A margin of error is acceptable, against which they successfully hedge, but what margin of error is acceptable to us with the electoral system?

one issue about security of voting. The other one is is the security attached to the transmittal of the vote and then the transmittal of the results.
July 7, 2016
R. Kenneth Carty Professor Emeritus, University of British Colombia PhD in Comparative Politics, Queen's University not an expert, perhaps online voting is something for the future I know nothing about the technicalities. I heard both the current and the past Chief Electoral Officer say they don't believe that the security concerns have been dealt with yet. I think this is an issue probably for the future. July 25, 2016
Brian Tanguay Professor, Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University PhD in Political Science from Carleton University not an expert, concerned about security but cautiously interested This isn't something that I have done research on, but like Professor Wiseman I would be worried about the security aspects of online voting. However, nonetheless I am intrigued by the prospect and believe that a number of studies at the municipal level here in Ontario are being conducted or will be conducted in the future, and ought to continue to be conducted. I think it's definitely something that should be explored.

All the while we should keep in mind that the Internet is not necessarily a secure environment for this kind of thing.
July 25, 2016
Nelson Wiseman Director, Canadian Studies Program, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto Ph.D., University of Toronto (area of specialisation unknown) not in favour of Internet voting, not an expert, very concerned about security You've also discussed Internet voting. I don't favour that either, but if it is going to be used, I think it should only be for the housebound and the disabled.

In my limited reading in this area I've seen that the preponderance of experts are opposed to it because it's easy...well, not easy, but you can hack the system.

A few years ago three federal government departments were hacked. We have no idea of how extensive the information was that was lifted. Also, we just had the Democratic Party, the DNC, hacked.

At the University of Toronto the students decided—students are ahead of me, I don't even have a cellphone—that by having Internet voting it would increase participation because turnout was only 15% when students went to vote. They introduced Internet voting and turnout was 15%.

Two or three years ago, the University of Western Ontario had an election for their student council and president and it was hacked. The NDP had a convention to select the leader and snafus appeared. Can you imagine what will happen on election night?

The Internet is convenient, but incidentally it's not a social activity. It's social when you show up at the polls, you meet your neighbours, you get in line, and you talk to other people. Pressing these buttons at home is cocooning.
July 25, 2016
Michael Marsh Emeritus Professor, Trinity College Dublin (Department of Political Science) PhD (university and specalisation unknown) online voting is a long way away In simple terms, we [Ireland] don't have online voting. Postal voting is very difficult here, and I think online voting is a long way away.

There is research on postal voting. In some jurisdictions, I think Sweden, most people vote long before the election takes place. The hope was that postal voting would make it easier to vote, and therefore would raise turnout. Most of the research with which I am familiar says that what happens is that those people who would vote anyway find it easier to vote, and those people who wouldn't vote anyway don't vote just because they can vote by post. It facilitates the regular voter, not someone who's turned off from the system.
July 26, 2016
Michael Gallagher Professor of Comparative Politics, Trinity College Dublin PhD, Strathclyde, School of Government & Public Policy concerned about secrecy of the ballot, no demand in Ireland for online voting It's hard to envisage an online voting system that has a paper component to it. One concern about online voting here and in a lot of countries would be the secrecy of the ballot, which means in this country not just that you don't have to show anyone else how you voted, but you can't prove to anyone else how you voted even if you want to. The fear, then, is that if there were online voting, how do we know there isn't someone sitting and looking over your shoulder, making you vote in a particular way or bribing you to vote in a particular way? If there were a paper record of how you voted, then clearly the problems would be even greater, so there is really no demand here for online voting.

I realize that is one of the terms of reference of the committee, but it's not something that Ireland could really throw much light on.
July 26, 2016
Patrice Dutil Professor, Ryerson University (Department of Politics and Public Administration) PhD in History from York University more research needed, would support if it was "accurate and foolproof" The third point is that I do support continued research on online voting and its eventual adoption once we are all assured that it is accurate and foolproof. July 26, 2016
Peter Russell Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto Rhodes Scholar, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, B.A. with first class honours in 1957 [reference] no position stated July 26, 2016
Tom Rogers Electoral Commissioner, Australian Electoral Commission Australia does not have national online voting; Parliamentary inquiry recommended against it Electronic voting is a matter for the Australian Parliament, not for the AEC, and it would require a change to our legislation. At the federal level we do not use electronic voting, nor do we use Internet voting. In 2014 our electoral matters committee inquired into the topic of electronic voting, and I will just quote from that for one moment. It found that “irrespective of one's philosophical view about electronic voting, ...there can be no widespread introduction of electronic voting in the near term without massive costs and unacceptable security risks.”

At the state and territory level, some commissions have trialed electronic voting. In the Australian Capital Territory, where Canberra is located, electronic voting has been used in early voting centres since 2001. They use a system of personal computers. In New South Wales, Internet voting was trialed in 2011 and 2015 for particular categories of voters... I am aware of significant media commentary surrounding security aspects of this system, but I'm unable to comment further. I don't own that system.

...a 2014 report of the Australian Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, which is our parliamentary oversight committee. They did a comprehensive hearing into this topic and have written a comprehensive report on it. That quote came from that report, in which at that point in 2014 they acknowledged that whilst it may be inevitable at some point, they pointed out the significant risks that might accrue from electronic voting or Internet voting if it weren't done properly. [Note: see blog post Australia concludes electronic voting would catastrophically compromise election integrity]
July 26, 2016
Robert Peden Chief Electoral Officer, New Zealand no position stated [Note: On slide 25 "Electronic Voting" of the presentation (PDF) provided by the New Zealand Electoral Commission, it states:
  • No current legislative plans to introduce electronic voting for parliamentary elections
  • Trial proposed for 2016 local authority elections not proceeding
]
July 26, 2016
Henry Milner Senior Researcher, Chair in Electoral Studies, Université de Montréal unable to determine not an expert, voting in person is better This is not an area I've looked at, so I can't talk about research. I'm uncomfortable with it because maybe I'm just an old fogey, but I think too much is happening online for people and not enough is happening in their communities. As long as we can find ways of getting people to actually vote with their neighbours, I would prefer that. I haven't been persuaded that online helps us much. July 27, 2016
Alex Himelfarb Clerk of the Privy Council, 2002-2006 Ph.D in sociology from University of Toronto would prefer electronic voting—if it increased access and participation—to mandatory voting In the spirit of old fogeys, I too quite like the idea of elections as a collective experience. I think that's hugely valuable. On the other hand, I would prefer electronic voting—if it increased access and participation—to mandatory voting. To the extent that it might actually increase the voting of young Canadians, I find it somewhat attractive despite my basic fogeyness. July 27, 2016
André Blais Professor, Department of Political Science, Université de Montréal Ph.D. in Political science from York University concerned about security, we should move cautiously I'm certainly open to the idea. The concern, as Mr. Mayrand has mentioned, is whether we can really make sure that the system cannot be hacked. I think we should move very cautiously in that direction. July 27, 2016
Leslie Seidle Research Director, Canada's Changing Federal Community, Institute for Research on Public Policy DPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford no position stated July 27, 2016
Larry LeDuc Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Toronto Ph.D from the University of Michigan (area of specialization unknown) no position stated July 27, 2016
Hugo Cyr Dean, Faculty of Political Science and Law, Université du Québec à Montréal LL.D. (Université de Montréal) be cautious. concerned about the secret ballot and coercion. online voting won't dramatically increase youth turnout. I would just like to make a comment on online voting. We haven't said much about it. Personally, I would advise you to be cautious about this. We know that ballot secrecy protects the voter, but, above all, it also protects the system against fraud. When the ballot is secret, it cannot be sold easily, because buyers have no way of knowing whether the people trying to sell their vote are telling the truth about how they actually voted.

Online voting, which is done remotely over the Internet, basically makes it possible to disclose the information required to vote and makes the vote much more susceptible to horse trading. There is therefore a risk, which is not trivial since we now use social networks a lot more, and so on. I do have reservations about this, and I don't think that simply making it possible to vote online will dramatically increase turnout among younger voters.
July 27, 2016
Dennis Pilon Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, York University PhD from York University (Politics) no position stated July 28, 2016
Jonathan Rose Associate Professor, Department of Policital Studies, Queen's University Ph.D. in Political Science from Queen's University no position stated July 28, 2016
Maryantonett Flumian President, Institute on Governance (speaking on behalf of the Institute) a Master’s Degree in History and completed comprehensive exams towards a PhD in History at the University of Ottawa very strongly in favour of online voting, research needed on confidentiality and integrity ...the ability to vote online would make a difference [in voter turnout] as well.

A survey commissioned by us at the Institute on Governance—not yet published, but I will make it available to the committee after my appearance—shows that Canadians widely endorse online voting. I believe that technology that could and must ensure both the confidentiality and the integrity of an online voting process must be aggressively explored now, while we still have a few years to go.

People live their lives online, do their banking online, and pay their taxes online, but they can't vote online. A younger generation does not understand this, and frankly neither do I. I say let Canada be at the vanguard of piloting, experimenting, and implementing online voting as quickly as possible.

[Also see IOG blog post - Democratic Reform in Canada: Online Voting, Referenda, and the Governance Ecosystem #ERRE]
July 28, 2016
Arend Lijphart Research Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of California Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University no position stated August 22, 2016
Benoît Pelletier Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa LL.D., Université Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne), France; LL.D., Aix-Marseille III, France no position stated August 22, 2016
Nathalie Des Rosiers Dean, Faculty of Law, Civil Law, Ottawa University LL.M., Harvard University no position stated August 22, 2016
Harold Jansen Professor of Political Science, University of Lethbridge Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Alberta any move to online voting should be pursued with some caution

not a technical expert; concerned about security, lack of transparency and difficulty of identity verification

does not expect online voting would result in increased turnout; youth are less politically involved online than you might think

primarily presented results of online survey (results are not statistically representative)
My colleagues at four other Canadian universities and I have been surveying Canadians for the last two and a half years about their online political activities. In our surveys, we've asked a few questions about Canadians' attitudes toward online voting. This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and part of what they asked us to do was to try to come up with knowledge that would be useful and inform public debates. We've only begun to start analyzing some of that data, so I'm going to give you some preliminary findings quite briefly at the end.

In our survey, 36% of Canadians thought that Internet voting was risky; 42% thought it was safe; and the rest weren't sure one way or the other. What I found very interesting, though, is that a third of the people who said it was risky still said they were very likely to vote online if it were available to them. I think it's because the risk doesn't accrue to them personally; it's a risk to the system, not to them personally.

One caution: our survey was done through an online panel.

Very high income people were most likely to say they would very likely vote online.

any move to online voting should be pursued with some caution. It should be supplementary to what we have. It shouldn't replace the kinds of things Elections Canada always does, because there is a divide in digital skills that could end up disenfranchising voters.

Mrs. Sherry Romanado: We talked quickly about online voting, and you had talked about the statistics and the fact that it wasn't statistically sound because the people who participated were online.

Prof. Harold Jansen: We have the problem that we're doing it online, and it overrepresents the politically interested.

there's a technical side of it—and I'm not a computer scientist and there are other people better qualified to talk about that.

The major issue is the lack of transparency in the process. Things disappear into cyberspace and nobody's entirely sure what happens and you can't recreate a paper trail the way you can with a paper ballot. That's a significant issue.

There's the issue of identity verification. Are the people casting the ballot actually the people who are supposed to cast it? How do you prevent ballots from being sold or those identities from being traded off? There are all kinds of issues around that, which I think are fairly significant technical challenges.

My sense is that technically we've got a way to go yet to have things that are safe and secure enough.

I don't think we should expect realistically huge gains in voter turnout.

The reality is that people, and youth included, do a lot less politically online than you might expect. Our surveys have shown that very few people follow politicians on Facebook or on Twitter or engage with them online, and those people who do intend to be politically interested. So generally, it tends to just provide another tool for the people who are already engaged.
August 22, 2016
Christian Dufour Political scientist, Analyst and Writer; Chercheur, ENAP à Montréal lawyer (avocat); unable to determine details concerned about security and identity verification, also concerned that online voting would devalue the vote Aside from security and verification issues, a vote can very easily be devalued. When we vote now, we always have to go to a physical location. Some effort is required. It is not a survey.

So there is always a risk. On one hand, there is a desire to make voting easier and to reach out to people, but I'm not sure how effective that would be. Isn't there a risk that the vote itself would be devalued?
August 22, 2016
Barry Cooper Professor (political philosophy and war), University of Calgary PhD in Political Science from Duke University no position stated August 23, 2016

Number of witnesses to date with computer science, computer security, or voting technology expertise: 0.
(Note however that the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada is advised by people who have such expertise, as are other electoral officers.)

Kudos to those who are non-experts in online voting who declared so, and who urged caution.

Note that despite Dr. Tanguay's perception, there have been no technical studies of online voting at the municipal level in Ontario. Only non-technical investigations. Also note that Maryantonett Flumian's assertion that online voting would increase turnout is not supported by the evidence.

If you do have expertise in computer science, computer security, or voting technology, I encourage you to participate in the committee (by October 6, 2016 at the latest) as a witness and/or by submitting a brief.

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