Citizen Jury Praises Internet Voting Trial in Edmonton

internet voting is on in Edmonton Credit: Cedar Publishing[/caption]

Remember the online vote for your favorite jellybean color? Well, Red won!

The whole idea was to test public reaction to Internet voting in Edmonton. So, opinion surveys were conducted, and a 17 member Citizens’ Jury was convened to study the process and public response. The Edmonton Journal reports that after three days of hearing testimony from experts, and lots of study, just this Sunday the jury unanimously approved the further use of the technology in upcoming elections.

City officials say that Internet voting could be offered in Edmonton’s next civic election on Oct. 21, 2013.

Canadian political scientist, Nicole Goodman, reports that Internet voting has “transformed” early voting in cities like Markham, Ontario, which was the first major Canadian city to introduce it in 2003.

“Prior to the introduction of Internet voting, there were 2,000 votes registered at advance polls,” Goodman says. “But for the past two elections, it has averaged 10,000, or just over that.”

Canada is a world leader in Internet voting, with more online voting at the municipal level than any other country on the globe.  According to Prof. Goodman, it has been offered in 60 municipalities to more than two million voters.

While it’s generally thought to be favored mostly by youthful voters, Goodman says the average Internet voter is actually between the ages of 45 and 54, and has some college or university education.

So far, most municipalities use electronic voting for advance polls only, but in places like the city of Truro, Nova Scotia, not just early voting, but the entire vote is conducted online. Voter turnout there went from 19% in 2008 to 47% two years later.

“And what’s really interesting about this is that it’s an elderly community, so that puts to rest any concerns that [online voting] is too complicated for seniors, or that they won’t have the technological knowledge,” Goodman says.