Electronic voting in Canada

Electronic voting in Canada

It is a common misconception that there is no electronic voting in Canada. While the federal elections still use paper ballots, electronic voting technology has been used since at least the 1990s at the municipal level in some cities, and there are increasing efforts in a few areas to introduce it at a provincial level.

There are no Canadian electronic voting standards. Some systems used have been certified to United States standards.


For national elections, there is a uniform set of standards for voting.This governing law is the Canada Elections Act.

As of this writing, the Act is c. 9, assented to (made law) 31st May, 2000.It has a provision


Electronic voting process 18.1 The Chief Electoral Officer may carry out studies on voting, including studies respecting alternative voting means, and may devise and test an electronic voting process for future use in a general election or a by-election. Such a process may not be used for an official vote without the prior approval of the committees of the Senate and of the House of Commons that normally consider electoral matters.

Federal Initiative to Increase Voter Turnout

It is reported that 'Elections Canada hopes to test web voting within five years, beginning with a byelection. "The general philosophy is to take the ballot box to the voter," says Mayrand, Canada's chief electoral officer.' [cite news | last = Fekete | first = Jason | title = Black Mark | publisher = Calgary Herald | date = 2008-09-06 | url = http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/story.html?id=0687c489-ab35-4ad9-82b4-c4c69dde1a7a | accessdate = 2008-09-30 ]


Each province can choose its own voting machines and standards.


The VOTEX system will be used in several municipalities throughout Alberta in October 2007 [ [http://www.votex.ca/en/accomplishments/acc_2007.html VOTEX] ] .


On October 24, 2006 the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec released a report (in French only) "Report on the Evaluation of New Methods of Voting". In a press release [http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/en/nouvelleDetail.asp?id=2152&typeN=2] , three root causes of problems with electronic voting machines in the 2005 municipal elections were identified: * an imprecise legislative and administrative framework * absence of technical specifications, norms and standards * poor management of voting systems (especially lack of security measures) He has recommended that the current moratorium on the use of these systems be maintained, and leaves it up to the provincial legislature to decide whether or not to use electronic voting in future.


In September, 2004 the Chief Election Officer of Ontario released a report "Access, Integrity and Participation: Towards Responsive Electoral Processes for Ontario" which advocates the exploration of alternative (non-paper) voting channels, as well as other automated processes. To this end, he has issued two opportunities (requests for proposals): "Alternative Voting Methods - Pilot Application" and "Automated Voter Recording System".

The Democratic Renewal Secretariat of Ontario has election reform as part of its mandate. Their site states "we’ll examine whether and how to modernize our voting process, use technology better, and make it easier to vote."

New Brunswick

It was reported in the "Globe and Mail" on May 13, 2004 that "New Brunswick's chief electoral officer is reviewing the possibility of using electronic voting machines on a wide basis."


Each municipality can choose its own voting machines and standards, although in some provinces municipalities are required to follow provincial standards and regulations. For more information about the elections themselves, see Municipal elections in Canada.


Edmonton, Alberta offered touch-screen voting machines for advance voting in 2004.


Quebec held municipal elections in 2005. Numerous problems were reported with the voting machines used, and Pierre Bourque of Vision Montreal called for some re-votes. Approximately one year later, the Quebec Chief Electoral Officer released a report highly critical of the systems and processes used.


Kingston, Ontario offered touch-screen voting machines for advance voting in 2006. [http://www.cityofkingston.ca/cityhall/press/release.asp?mode=show&id=1934]

The 2006 St. Catharines, Ontario municipal election used optical scan machines. Some of the machines are from Dominion Voting Systems. Since 1988, the City of St. Catharines has been using optical scan voting technology for tabulating votes during the Municipal Elections. [http://www.stcatharines.ca/elections/electionsections/howtovote.asp]

The 2006 Ottawa, Ontario municipal election used optical scan machines (Diebold Accu Vote OS), as in the previous election. [http://ottawa.ca/city_hall/elections/elections_2006/voter/faq_en.html#P110_11185]

Peterborough, Ontario used Internet voting in 2006 in addition to the more traditional methods - see http://www.peterboroughvotes.ca/

Markham, Ontario used Internet voting in 2003 and again in 2006. The Markham system was from the US company Election Systems & Software. In 2006, Markham experienced a 48% growth in online voting. [http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/November2006/16/c5656.html]

Jonathon Hollins, Canadian director of Election Systems & Software reports that "Voting on standalone touch-screen machines (Direct Recording Electronics), ... which also caters to the visually-impaired through an audio ballot, has been used in municipal elections held in Toronto,
Edmonton, and the Ontario cities of Vaughan, Brantford, Oakville and Mississauga.

Windsor, Ontario used touch-screen balloting in a 2002 by-election and in the 2003 Ontario Municipal Election, but only at their advance polls.

In Ontario, Markham and Prescott have also flirted with Internet voting, which allows people to vote at home, at work, in libraries or at the polling station. The city of Vancouver and the province of Ontario are also exploring online voting for their next elections, according to (Adam Froman, president of Delvinia Interactive Inc.)"

A 2000 year-end report from Global Election Systems (now owned by US company Diebold, formerly called Diebold Election Systems and now called Premier Election Solutions) states "Global reports add-on sales of 60 AccuVote systems to the City of Ottawa and 70 to the City of Hamilton as well as first-time sales of 60 AccuVote-TS systems to the City of Barrie".

New Brunswick

Saint John, New Brunswick used optical scanning machines in the 2004 municipal election.

Nova Scotia

In the Halifax Regional Municipality municipal election, 2008, residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality will be able to vote in the municipal election online. [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2008/09/25/halifax-electronic-voting.html]


External links

Canadian Election Offices and Law

* [http://www.elections.ca/ Elections Canada]
* [http://www.electionsontario.on.ca/ Elections Ontario]
* [http://www.gnb.ca/elections/ Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (OCEO) New Brunswick]
* [http://www.gnb.ca/elections/electionlinks-e.asp List of all provincial election offices] including clickable map
* [http://www.canlii.org/ca/sta/e-2.01/sec18.1.html Canada Legal Information Institute (CanLII) Canada Elections Act, 2000, c. 9 >> 18.1 Electronic voting process]

Canadian Elections

* [http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/municipales2005_en/ DGEQ - Quebec 2005 municipal elections]
* [http://www.edmonton.ca/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_272_214_0_43/http%3B/CMSServer/COEWeb/city+government/municipal+elections/advance+vote/default.htm Edmonton Vote 2004 > Advance Vote]

Reports, Articles, Blogs

* [http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/fr/pdf/publications/DGE-6357(06-09).pdf Rapport d'évaluation des nouveaux mécanismes de votation] Directeur général des élections du Québec
* [http://www.electionsontario.on.ca/usr_files/election_report_2003_en.pdf Access, Integrity and Participation: Towards Responsive Electoral Processes for Ontario]
* [http://www.electionsontario.on.ca/usr_files/election_report_2003_fr.pdf ACCÈS, INTÉGRITÉ ET PARTICIPATION : vers des processus électoraux souples pour l’Ontario]
* [http://www.gnb.ca/elections/04mun/04munvotetab-e.asp Vote Tabulation Machine Use in the City of Saint John] Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Government of New Brunswick
* [http://www.democraticrenewal.gov.on.ca/ Ontario Democratic Renewal Secretariat]
* [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2000_July_25/ai_63663824 Global Election Announces (2000) Year-End System Sales; Increased Revenues]
* [http://blog.papervotecanada.ca/ Paper Vote Canada] a blog about electronic voting issues in Canada

Electronic Voting Systems Providers Headquartered in Canada

* [http://businesssolutions.bell.ca/default.aspx?tabid=247 Bell Business Solutions] supplied machines in 2005 Quebec municipal election
* [http://www.dominionvoting.com/ Dominion Voting Systems]
* [http://www.votex.ca/ VOTEX/TM Technologies Elections]
* [http://www.intelivote.com/ Intelivote Systems Inc.]

International Vendors that Have Provided Voting Systems in Canada

* [http://www.essvote.com/ Election Systems & Software] (USA)

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