Cariboo Regional District Chair Al Richmond is glad to see someone from a regional district sitting on the Independent Panel on Internet Voting, announced by Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer Monday.
“I know Lee-Ann Crane, CEO for East Kootenay Regional District, professionally. It’s good to see some local government folks appointed on the panel to see how this is actually going to work.”
Paramount, Richmond says, is how the integrity of the voting process can be maintained if Internet voting is introduced.
“The idea is to encourage more people to get out and participate in the voting. No matter what we think of it, it will be up to those appointed people to muster, to sort through this. I think it will be difficult, although I haven’t heard too many people being opposed to it, but there will have to be a system ensuring people have free voting rights and then no one is unduly interfering with them.”
When people go to the polls, he points out, they are by themselves in an election booth. No one else is there dictating it.
“That’s the highest level of concern I’ve heard voiced by people. It’s the privacy of the vote.”
Other members of the panel are Chief Electoral Officer Keith Archer; Elections BC Chair Dr. Konstantin Beznosov, associate professor at the department of electrical and computer engineering, University of British Columbia; Dr. Valerie King, professor at the department of computer science, University of Victoria; and George Morfitt, former auditor general of British Columbia.
Independent Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson says it’s important to explore every opportunity to engage more people with the electoral process.
“Security is an issue that can be overcome; however, the critical factor is to make sure we don’t do either/or because there are still lots of British Columbians that don’t have access to a computer or that can’t afford one.”
More importantly, Simpson notes, is democratic reform.
“I was meeting with Fair Vote Canada and Fair Voting BC. I still think we need to regard the single transferrable vote referendums we’ve had as an unfinished conversation.”
Internet voting needs to be explored, he adds, but weaknesses in the existing system need to be addressed.
“As we saw most recently in Quebec, a one percentage vote difference determined who got government, but at the end of the day, not one of those political parties had a majority support from the electorate.”
Cariboo Chilcotin Liberal MLA Donna Barnett is confident the panel will delve into the security concerns.
“It looks like a group of professionals that understand the complexity. It looks like a good mix,” she said.