British Columbia

Online election voting approved by Vancouver

Vancouver city council has approved online voting in November's municipal election - pending approval by the provincial government.
The province has been asked to approve computerized voting for advance polls in November's municipal election in Vancouver. (CBC)

Vancouver city council has approved online voting in November's municipal election — pending approval by the provincial government.

If the pilot project gets the green light, eligible voters would have the option of voting in advance polls by home or mobile computer.

Councillor Andrea Reimer believes the technological shift could improve voter participation, which has dipped to about 30 per cent in Vancouver.

"If we could at least put a dent in the decline of voter turnout using something that has already been tested in other cities and is working well for them and has increased voter turnout, why not give it a shot and see how it works here," said Reimer after the vote Tuesday.

Reimer noted that Christy Clark was elected leader of the B.C. Liberal Party and premier at a February convention using ballots filed on personal computers across the province.

"We have the first premier in Canada to be elected by online voting. Her party chose online voting to choose her as leader."

Fraud a concern

Council voted 10-1 for the project, with the opposing vote coming from Councillor Suzanne Anton.

Anton said she was concerned about the potential for voter fraud and wanted more public consultation.

Voters would be given a personal identification number to pre-register and then would be given another PIN, in a process designed to minimize voter fraud, according to city staff.

The cities of Markham, Ont., Peterborough, Ont., and Halifax have instituted online voting.

Voter participation improved by about one-third in Markham since online voting was introduced.