With all the talk of election rigging recently, it’s a good time to revisit why we should care about our voting process. And why we should remain wary about electronic voting.
I understand the appeal of electronic voting — who doesn’t want to be able vote without leaving their house? But, one of the greatest strengths of our elections has been the paper trail that our votes leave behind. With the paper trail, the outcome of the election can be calculated when the polls close, or a week, month or even years later. As long as we have the paper trail, we can trust in the outcome as recounts are possible.
The recent Parksville byelection used a partial electronic voting system. Each ballot was the equivalent of a ‘scantron’ sheet, fed into a computer that tabulated the results. The positive of this system is that the paper trail remains and the results can be quickly delivered. This is an electronic voting system I can (mostly) get behind. Mostly, because the privacy of your vote is not always maintained.
After marking your ballot, you take it to the computer and feed it in upside down (so the person at the computer cannot see your vote). The computer then indicates whether or not it could successfully read your ballot. If it couldn’t, you could have it counted as a non-vote (spoiled ballot) or fix it.
If you did spoil your ballot, the person at the computer (and anyone behind you) knows that this is what you did as you were asked how you wanted to proceed.
Electronic voting that can be done from home (online voting) doesn’t maintain the paper trail. An election that can’t be recounted is an election that becomes very hard to prove wasn’t rigged.
So while I can get behind what Parksville used in this election, let’s make sure that we continue to monitor our own elections, right down to the city council level positions, to ensure that we maintain their integrity.