Online voting would be a great idea — if we had the technology.


The Background

What's wrong with online voting? We've used it in Guelph before. And we do our banking online and that stays secure... right?

(It's funny you should ask. I work in the computer engineering field and have written low-level network software.)

The problem is that any voting system that we use has three vital requirements:

  1. Votes must be anonymous and private: there can be no way for anyone to influence how you vote. 
  2. Votes must be secure: once you've voted, there can be no way someone can change your vote.
  3. Only eligible voters can vote: we can't let any ineligible person participate in the election.

There are no online solutions that meet all three requirements.


Online banking works because every person can check their own records — which doesn't work for voting. If you can confirm the system is recording your vote, you can be coerced into proving who you voted for, and anonymity is broken.

Computer systems are vulnerable to attack, and elections are a prime target. While we can use open-source software with known checksums to let more people inspect the code, we can't guarantee every security hole is plugged, and we can't ensure that the computer you use to vote is secure and malware-free. Your vote might be changed in transmission or on the remote server without you even knowing.


What I'll Do

To maintain the legitimacy of our elections, I will stand firmly against any proposal to implement online voting in Guelph.

Our election results need to be reliable and verifiable.