Internet vote dead
Security fears, tight timelines seal fate of project
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Tuesday, Feb 19, 2013 06:30 pm
There will be no Internet voting in St. Albert in October’s municipal election.
Councillors voted, albeit reluctantly, to stop all work on the proposed pilot project, two weeks after Edmonton councillors voted to withdraw from it. St. Albert, Edmonton and Strathcona County had hoped to work together to run the pilot project.
The three communities had wanted to offer voters the chance to vote in an advanced poll online in conjunction with October’s municipal election. Voters would have registered and been emailed the necessary documents to vote on a website.
“Because of Edmonton’s public lack of confidence in (Internet voting), it is going to be very hard for St. Albert residents to know it will work,” said Coun. Cathy Heron, describing the outcome as “disappointing.”
Chief legislative officer Chris Belke told council Edmonton’s withdrawal represented a substantial loss of in-house expertise, something St. Albert would have difficulty replacing. He pointed to the “jellybean” pilot vote as an example, which Edmonton did entirely on its own.
“That’s something we cannot afford to do on our own,” Belke told council.
Edmonton council was rocked by allegations from one participant in the jellybean vote that he was able to vote twice. But this person, Belke said, has refused to reveal how he did it and no proof exists that he actually did vote more than once. Belke said Edmonton’s conclusion is that he could have only done so if he had registered as two different people with two different sets of identification.
But Belke added that was just speculation.
“(Edmonton is) certain that their system would have caught that,” Belke said.
But those same concerns bled into St. Albert’s city council chambers as five councillors voted to stop all work.
“Internet voting is something I think will eventually come but I think it's premature to try this in 2013,” said Coun. Malcolm Parker.
Belke said that even if council decided St. Albert could pursue Internet voting on its own, the costs are unknown and the timeline is increasingly growing tight to have the work done in time for October’s vote.
Couns. Len Bracko and Roger Lemieux argued against abandoning the pilot project.
“It makes it easier for our residents,” Bracko said. “They don't have to come to a voting station. They can vote wherever they are.”
Belke said Strathcona County has not yet decided how it will proceed, but said its members of administration were concerned about meeting timelines.