Online voting alternative, not replacement, for traditional voting
Our online lives are growing. We can shop, bank and comment on almost anything online. So it was really only a matter of time before Toronto joined ranks with other municipalities in talking about the possibility of online voting.
Rocco Rossi pledged to invest in online and telephone voting by 2015 as part of his three R's of election reform: Respect, Results and Recall. Other promises Rossi has included in this part of his platform are term limits and the ability to recall the mayor and councillors. Mayoral candidate Joe Pantalone has also promised to introduce online and telephone voting.
Municipalities already have the power to introduce alternative voting methods, and online voting has been used in municipal elections since the 1990's.
In 2003, Markham introduced online voting in its advanced polls. The total voter turnout was 37.6 percent, up from the 28 per cent turnout typical for a municipal election.
Rossi's goals in introducing online and telephone voting to Toronto are to increase voter turnout, as well as to make the voting process more accessible and to encourage new voters.
I definitely think online voting has its place. It is quicker in this day of busy schedules, and it cuts out the confusion of which polling station you have to go to and when. It would also be more cost-effective in some circumstances, such as Canadians voting from abroad.
Moreover, it may be more accessible for some people, including individuals with disabilities. However, it can't become an excuse for not continuing to provide full accessibility at polling stations.
Should alternative voting be introduced in Toronto, every individual, regardless of their situation, must have the right to choose which method they use to cast their ballot.
While online voting may make sense for young people in today's internet-driven age, in my opinion, there is something special about going to the polling stations to vote. To me, it is something we do as a community and an experience we have that reminds us of what it is to be an active and involved citizen in a democracy.