Clearly, online voting still isn’t ready for the big time

An online voting screen in the Township of North Dundas, which successfully employed contractor Intelivote Systems to handle its vote without problems on Municipal Election Day. Some other municipalities hired a competing firm that did have problems, compelling a declared emergency and extension of voting hours into today, Oct. 23.

The Full Nelson

by Nelson Zandbergen

A bullet dodged! The municipalities in the The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry and The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry did not employ the wrong company for their just-completed online vote.

Rather, Intelivote Systems Inc was the selected firm here, and their technology seems to have worked as intended.

But 51 other municipalities “chose poorly” — to quote a line from an Indiana Jones flick — as they discovered to their chagrin last night.

Unfortunately for the handful of competitors in the online voting business, the reported mess involving Dominion Voting Systems is not exactly confidence-building news for their industry, to put it mildly. It’s another black eye. Memories have not yet faded of 2014 when this area’s election was handled by another outfit that wound up apologizing for long-delayed results across the region.

So, choose your voting contractor wisely and everyone’s satisfied. But choose poorly — out of only three or four players in the field — and you end up delayed or even — as is the case in several Ontario municipalities today — into the abyss of a declared emergency and an added day of voting. Clearly, the barrier to enter the online voting marketplace is too low. But is that a risk municipal electors and taxpayers in Ontario should assume?

Of course, there’s a third option: A full-out return to paper ballots until the online voting industry “grows up.” They’ve had almost 20 years now, but obviously, that’s not been enough time to reach maturity. At the very least, more provincial regulation is required to bring the sector into line and inflict real penalties when online systems fail to live up to expectations. An election should never be short-circuited or even delayed by a “glitch.” Failure is not an option when conducting a vote in Ontario.

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