On September 28th, 2009, Halifax, Nova Scotia implemented online voting as a voting medium (in addition to telephone voting, paper ballots, or electronic voting at the polls). Although Dean Smith, the President of Intelivote Systems, does not shed light on security concerns regarding online voting in his news article "Online Voting Results in Record Number of Voters Participating in Halifax By Election," he attempts to elucidate that online voting can have a positive effect on access to the democratic process.
First, Smith argues that online voting is the most popular form of electronic voting that Halifax has currently implemented. His conclusion is evidenced by his statement, "Of voters who cast their ballot electronically, approximately 80% voted using the web and 20% used their cell or regular telephone to select the candidate of their choice." However, there are a few critical concerns regarding the presentation and acccuracy of the statistical evidence Smith provides. How did Halifax prevent its individual constituents from voting multiple times? Did Halifax ensure that online voters were over the legal voting age?
Second, Smith argues that online voting opens access to democratic procedure by providing exceptional conveniency to certain demographics of voters: "When you have thousands of voters who are comfortable using electronic voting and an event like this runs without any electoral concerns or incidents at all, and it affords disabled voters, military personnel, and students away at school an opportunity to cast their ballot; I'd say that's a very positive step for democracy." The accessibility provided by online voting poses two imperative questions regarding the democratic values and security of online voting. First, is it truly democratic to increase voting accessibility for certain groups (e.g. military personnel, disabled voters, and students) and not others (e.g. people in lower socioeconomic brackets who cannot afford computers, minority groups, senior citizens, etc.)? Second, Smith assumes that online voting "runs without any electoral concerns or incidents at all," but what steps did Halifax take in order to ensure that viruses, malware, and hackers could not interfere with online voting procedure?
Although Smith successfully demonstrates that online voting is both popular (statistically) and accessible among certain demographics (e.g. military personnel, senior citizens, and students), he fails to answer or consider central questions regarding the democratic nature and security of online voting procedure. Without answering these questions, how can citizens be confident that their votes count?
Smith, Dean. "Online Voting Results in Record Number of Voters Participating in Halifax By Election." Market Wire. 28 September 2009. Intelivote Systems Inc. 4 October 2009.