Online Voting May Become Reality for Ontario, Canada

The capability may become available to the province’s 8.5 million voters as soon as 2017.

by / July 11, 2013

In the next few years, the province of Ontario, Canada, may give its citizens the choice to vote in government elections in a new way: on the Internet.

Last month, Greg Essensa, Ontario’s chief electoral officer, said plans to test online and telephone voting capability in a by-election may be a reality by 2017, which could then give 8.5 million voters an alternative to traditional voting methods. If this plan goes through, Ontario would be one of the largest jurisdictions worldwide to allow online voting, according to local media.

Online voting has been in practice for general voting in municipalities outside the U.S.; however, some tech experts claim the capability isn’t quite ready as far as security and fraud prevention. In that same vein, some panelists at a 2012 Princeton University symposium claimed that many problems in online voting have not yet been solved, and that the likelihood of performing successful online voting in the U.S. is not yet realistic. 

“Vendors may come and they may say they’ve solved the Internet voting problem for you, but I think that, by and large, they are misleading you, and misleading themselves as well,” said Ron Rivest, MIT computer scientist and cryptography pioneer, during the symposium. “If they’ve really solved the Internet security and cybersecurity problem, what are they doing implementing voting systems? They should be working with the Department of Defense or financial industry.”