Canada Marks First Internet Election in North America

Eastern Ontario voters today were allowed to vote by Internet or telephone — but not by paper ballot — in what is being called the first all-electronic election of North America.

Despite e-voting security issues in the United States that have pitted some researchers, publishers and ISPs against Diebold Election Systems, the Linux-based voting system used in the Ontario election is as secure as or more secure than financial industry transactions, CanVote president Joe Church told TechNewsWorld.

Church said that although there is still a credibility gap as some contingents hold on to the idea of paper ballots, the access and administrative advantages are likely to drive electronic voting as the means for more and more elections going forward.

“I don’t see anything that would be adverse to growth,” said Church, whose small Ontario company gave 94,000 voters in 11 municipalities the option of Web or phone-based votes.

E-Voting First

Most Canadians have telephone, Internet access or both, but those who do not could cast votes at municipal offices or even at neighbors’ houses, according to Church, who said the eastern Ontario elections mark the first North American voting done strictly electronically by Internet or telephone.

“You can vote from home, the office, Florida, Europe — anywhere,” he said, adding that the e-voting system also boosted accessibility for voters who are impaired with audible Web browsers and Braille-capable technology.

The security and integrity of electronic voting has been the focus of research and debate, including findings from Johns Hopkins and Rice universities that prompted protest from Diebold Election Systems.

Security Biggest Issue

International Foundation for Elections Systems executive vice president Paul DeGregorio told TechNewsWorld that security is the biggest issue facing e-voting.

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