Markham to give e-voting another try

The City of Markham is willing to give electronic voting a second chance, but one of the companies behind its effort is wondering why Toronto has failed to show any interest.

Delvinia Interactive on Monday published the results of a survey in which 69 per cent of residents in the GTA planning to vote in the November 13 election said they would prefer to vote online if offered. Of residents not planning to vote, 82 per cent said that the opportunity to cast ballots online would increase the likelihood they would vote. Delvinia is a digital marketing and communications company that helped publicize Markham’s e-voting project during the last municipal election.

“I don’t know why Toronto hasn’t considered (it),” said Adam Froman, Delvinia’s president. “There’s so many Markhamites that work in Toronto, and the experience was so overwhelmingly positive . . . what more evidence do they need?”

Markham managed to attract 12,000 of the city’s 150,000 registered voters to pre-register to cast their votes electronically in the last election, more than 7,000 of whom did so either from home, public libraries or at touch-screen kiosks at City Hall. Omaha-based Election Systems &Software (ES&S) supplied the technology to the municipality at a cost of $25,000 on an ASP basis.

Markham acting CIO Nasir Kenea confirmed that the city would be allowing e-voting again this year, and would continue to work with the same vendors.

“It worked out okay, it was successful,” he said. “It’s somewhat surprising to see not many people to get into online voting at this age, but maybe they have their own issues to worry about.”

Authentication has been a recurring issue in getting voters, as well as cities, to embrace the technology, Froman said.

“The fear is how do you know the right person’s voting? There is no guarantee,” he said, adding that the system may in some ways be more secure than traditional online government services. “When it’s running all the time, it can be hard to have the right level of monitoring. In this case, the company uses a secure technology but once polls are open, they are monitored for any misuse. It has more attention associated with it.”

Delvinia will be working with Markham to use social media to raise awareness of the service, Froman said. After the last election, for example, video testimonials were created where voters expressed their satisfaction with the online experience. Markham is also looking at mobile phone e-mail reminders to get voters using the service, he added.

“Voter apathy was No. 1 deterrent from voting online. They didn’t get around to authenticating and registering, to make sure you get that secret PIN. The thing is, no one if you’ve done that except you. It’s not like a voter card that goes to everybody’s house.”

Markham and Toronto will be going to the polls along with other GTA municipalities on Nov. 13.


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