Posted by: VPSN | January 13, 2011

On-line voting in Vancouver – worth casting a ballot for?

I Voted Sticker
“I voted” sticker – Photo by Cave Canem

Next week promises to be a busy one at Council – between the regular session of Council on Tuesday and the various Council Committee meetings taking place on Thursday there is a full suite of public space related activities.  These include:

  • A motion (see below) on the possibility of on-line voting (Tues)
  • A motion on calculating available density in the city (Tues)
  • A report on expanding street food options (Thurs)
  • A report on noise in the city and the efficacy of the noise bylaw (Thurs)
  • Discussion on the VAG move (which we mentioned in our previous post) (Thurs)
  • Two presentations – likely quite contentious – on building heights and view-related issues (Thurs)
  • The draft Greenest City Implementation Plan (Thurs)

The first is particularly timely.  Earlier this week  a suite of contenders for the leadership of the BC liberals endorsed (some cautiously) the idea of on-line voting.  And here’s a chance to consider it at the local level.

For those that have difficulty scheduling a trip to the neighbourhood voting box once every three or four years, this might make life easier.  There’s a larger discussion to be had about civic engagement here – and, as much as we like technology, we can’t help wonder if this will do much to get at the core issues behind current voting levels.  Then again, if it does a better job of getting residents engaged with the civic contest, that’s a positive outcome.

Either way, it’s an interesting motion and we’re be watching to see the sort of exchange that ensues.

Here’s the text of the motion, which was introduced by Councillor Andrea Reimer:

WHEREAS

1. Less than 35% of eligible voters in Vancouver cast ballots in the last two
civic elections;

2. Voter turnout is considered an important indicator of social cohesion
and vital to a healthy democracy;

3. Research conducted by Elections Canada on voter turn out in the last
federal election found that 57% of non-voters cited time pressures that
prevented them from getting to a voting place in person;

4. Elections Canada will be conducting an online voting pilot in the 2013
federal election;

5. Online voting can greatly improve accessibility by increasing the time
and place options available to voters to cast a ballot;

6. Online voting is used in more than three dozen Canadian municipalities ranging from 44 municipalities in Ontario, such as Markham, ON which piloted online voting in 2003, to Halifax, Nova Scotia which conducted successful pilots in a 2008 general election and 2009 by-election;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City Clerk report to Council on the feasibility of conducting an online voting pilot in the 2011 municipal elections or, if 2011 is not feasible, what the earliest date for a pilot would be.

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