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Markham First in North America to Vote Online

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from the Hamilton Spectator, July 14, 2003 courtesy of Torstar Syndication services. Image: From Markham website, a message reads "Vote Online or In Line" with three accompanying images: (Left) An elderly man standing next to his wife, who is in a wheelchair, (Middle) A Chinese-Canadian couple posing with their child, (Right) A finger clicking a mouse, representing voting "on-line"

Markham - Picking candidates in this fall's municipal election will be as easy as a click of a button for voters in Markham, where the town's council is the first in North America to approve Internet voting.

Online voting, available from noon to 8 p.m. during advance polls on Nov. 3 to 7, is designed to increase voter participation by making it fast and easy to cast ballots for the mayor and local and regional councillors -- from anywhere in the world, said Frank Edwards, the town's manager of administration.

"If you can connect (to the Net), you can vote," he said of the new system, which will cost $25,000 to implement.

The system will provide easy access for seniors and the disabled, "who may be unable to attend traditional voting stations, and for those who have to travel distances to cast their vote in the dark and traditionally miserable November weather," said town clerk Sheila Birrell.

It's already been used in Europe and the United Kingdom, where officials in three municipalities reported an average 20 per cent increase in votes cast, Edwards said.

There are about 151,000 eligible voters in Markham, but only a paltry 28 to 32 per cent typically cast ballots, he said. In a town where it's estimated about 80 per cent of households have computers, Edwards is counting on the Internet to boost turnout this year.

The town is working with Election Systems and Software, which has applied all the checks and balances to ensure voters' privacy, secrecy of results and a method of verifying voters, he said, adding that the system is similar to the one used by banks for secure online transactions.

Those eligible to vote will be issued a password and one-time-use personal identification number, which can be reset if the system crashes, Edwards said. If the system can't be restored, voters will still be able to cast traditional paper ballots at their polling station.

Council's approval of the new voting system makes Markham, known as Canada's high-tech capital, a leader in the field, Edwards said, noting federal and provincial officials as well as municipalities across Ontario are watching to see how well it works.

"This is a great customer-service initiative," Mayor Don Cousens said of the system after it was approved by council. "Being the first to approve Internet voting also moves the town into the next generation of voting and innovative technology."

The town has also hired Delvinia Interactive Inc. to report back to council on whether the system is a viable option for future elections.

This year the town will also be introducing touch-screen voting, making it easier for the visually impaired.


After living in France for a year I realize that this is the land of bureaucracy and voting online would be never possible as too many governmental officials will loose their jobs and paying unemployment help to them would cost way too much.

The election for Markham city council will take place at the end of the year. For the first time in the history of North America, they are allowing the people living there to elect their candidates through internet voting. Let us see this method will work or not.