British Columbia

Vancouver online voting pilot nixed by province

A pilot program for online municipal election voting in Vancouver won't get off the ground in time for the upcoming civic election.
The province hopes to have online municipal voting up and running by 2014. (CBC)

A pilot program for online municipal election voting in Vancouver won't get off the ground in time for the upcoming civic election.

Earlier this year, Vancouver city council passed a resolution to set up online voting for the advance polls of this year's municipal election on Nov. 19, which would have allowed eligible voters to cast a ballot by home or mobile computer.

However, the city needed provincial approval to get the program up and running — and the province says there's not enough time to ensure a fair and accurate process is in place.

"Their response, after consulting with Elections BC, was that they did not have enough confidence that we could conduct  a pilot this year and meet the tests they would like it to meet in terms of being rock solid," said Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer.

Elections BC doesn't manage civic elections, but said online voting opens the door to voter fraud.

Online voting by 2014

"Pilots are planned in the next couple of years in other parts of Canada and I think it is ... a matter of time before it will be available in some format," said Elections BC spokesperson Anton Boegman.

Reimer had hoped the technological shift would help boost voter turnout, which sat at about 31 per cent in Vancouver's last civic election.

Reimer said the idea has since gained traction with other B.C. municipalities.

"Since then we have had quite a number of other municipalities pass motions asking the province for the ability for their municipalities to do this," Reimer said.

"A Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) motion went forward from us and others to the UBCM and it was quite a strong vote in support of it there so that is very positive for us."

The province says it should have a online voting program in place by 2014, in time for the next municipal elections.

With files from the CBC's Emily Elias