A real democracy would make all means of voting available to the public,. that includes voting in cyberspace
The Conservative Government in Canada is trying to pass a bill called the Fair Elections Act. The bill was put forward in an attempt to address the 2011 federal election voter suppression scandal (better known as the Robocall Scandal).
Instead, what the bill does is make it harder to vote. Especially for young Canadians. Apparently the conservative idea to deal with voter suppression is to suppress voters. I’m sure Americans in certain states can relate to this type of nonsense.
I’m not going to get into the details of the bill too much. Suffice to say, it is being attacked by all the opposition parties. Even the former Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley said that if the Fair Elections Act goes through “Canadians will lose their trust and confidence in our elections.”
One item in the bill that makes absolutely no sense is that Elections Canada will no longer be allowed to publicly encourage citizens to vote. With Canadian voter turnout at historic lows, what kind of government wouldn’t want to encourage voter turnout? A conservative one of course.
This “Fair Elections Act” should not only encourage people to vote, it should also make voting easier and hassle free. What better way to do that than by having Elections Canada join the 21st century.
Rick Mercer had a great idea in his rant this week. For those who don’t know him, Mercer can be best described as the Canadian Jon Stewart. In his rant, Mercer said “How is it possible in 2014, in a bill that deals with how we can vote, was there absolutely no discussion of online voting?” Needless to say, his speech got me thinking.
The concept does seem scary at first when you consider that up until now, Canadians have always written an “X” on a single piece of thin cardboard. But you need to take into account that Canada is among the most wired countries in the world.
We do our banking online, our shopping online, we submit our taxes online, and we even meet our loved ones online. If it’s safe enough to bank, surely it’s safe enough to vote? It’s not like the voting website would be run by a third party corporation, not unlike those voting machines we see being used in the US. It would be handled by Elections Canada.
What better way to get young people involved in the political process than to allow them the opportunity to vote through a medium they understand? People could research party policies and candidates, then vote soon after without leaving home. Adults could even vote from work.
“When this bill passes it will be illegal for Elections Canada to encourage young people to vote. Because, well, there’s the problem right there, isn’t it? I mean, you get young people voting, next thing you know you have an entire generation of informed citizens running around taking part in democracy and feeling a real ownership in Canada.” – Rick Mercer
Online voting is worthy of discussion and hopefully Mr. Mercer’s idea has gotten that conversation started. As long as you are registered, who cares whether you pencil in an “X” or check a box on your computer? At the very least, the thought of online voting makes more sense than this so-called Fair Elections Act.