Online election snafus in dozens of Ontario communities raise systemic questions
A major online voting issue that forced more than 50 communities in Ontario to extend municipal election voting hours prompted questions on Tuesday about the integrity of the balloting process.
One candidate, forced to wait more than 24 hours longer to find out that he had won the mayoralty, called the process disconcerting and questioned the wisdom of having no paper-ballot backup. In addition, Chris Peabody urged the provincial government to study internet balloting and to update election laws to reflect new realities.
Instead of either celebrating a win or drowning a loss in a drink, Peabody and scores of other political hopefuls found themselves for much of the day grappling with the online glitch.
“It makes you really question whether it’s worth putting all the time and effort into it,” Peabody said of his run for mayor of Brockton, Ont. “It might be one of the reasons there’s so much cynicism and so many acclamations in municipal politics this year in Ontario.”
In all, 51 municipalities using Denver, Colo.-based Dominion Voting Systems had problems. Some opted to extend voting by an hour or two, but others like Brockton in midwestern Ontario pushed the deadline back a full 24 hours.
In a statement late Monday, Dominion blamed an unnamed Toronto company for limiting incoming online voting traffic. Dominion said the issue was resolved in 90 minutes, but many voters still complained of problems. On Tuesday, the company promised a new statement, but offered no details.
“Our priority is ensuring that our Ontario municipal election customers are able to provide their voters with uninterrupted service until the end of voting,” Dominion vice president Kay Stimson said.
One expert was skeptical about Dominion’s casting blame on a third-party subcontractor and said communities might never know for sure what really happened. As a rule, said Aleksander Essex, an assistant professor of software engineering at Western University, verifying the integrity of online votes is next to impossible.
“We’re left to just trust the vendor and the clerk that they did a good job, (but) why should you have to trust them?” Essex said. “It’s not a strong foundation for a democratic institution to be built off of a multinational, completely global infrastructure that is basically being run by business concerns and is completely non-transparent.” – CTV News
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…We’re left to just trust the vendor and the clerk that they did a good job, (but) why should you have to trust them?” Essex said. “It’s not a strong foundation for a democratic institution to be built off of a multinational, completely global infrastructure that is basically being run by business concerns and is completely non-transparent…
Exactly, yet we are willingly running into that voting system with open arms and big grins on our faces. Are we that stupid? Yes. Yes we are.
If you voted online, you cannot be sure that your vote even counted. Also, was your vote and identity recorded? Is there such a thing as a secret ballot on the Internet? On your phone? Of course not!