British Columbia

Online elections sought by B.C. municipalities

B.C. municipal leaders have voted to ask the province to make online voting an option in municipal elections starting in 2014.
B.C. could have online voting in municipal elections as soon as 2014. (CBC)

B.C. municipal leaders have endorsed the idea of online voting for the 2014 municipal elections — but debate on the issue has revealed deep divisions within the Union of B.C. Municipalities at its convention in Vancouver.

A majority voted Wednesday to ask the province to do the work required to have online voting ready for the elections in three years.

Online voting is fraught with danger, said Coun. Donna Shugar, of the Sunshine Coast Regional District.

"Particularly because you don't know who is in the room with the voter, coercing or persuading," Shugar said.

Many at the convention agreed with Shugar, and also expressed concern that online voting could fall prey to hackers.

But many on the other side of the argument say something must be done to increase voter turnout by bringing a virtual voting booth into the home.

"My belief is what tears at democracy is when people don't turn out to vote," said Kelowna Coun. Kevin Craig.

Craig said he has the dubious distinction of winning a byelection with a record low turnout of 11 per cent.

The next round of municipal elections will be held in November.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies