The claims made for Internet voting include:
- it will increase overall turnout
- it will increase youth turnout
- it will be more efficient and reliable than paper-based, human-counted elections
And here is the reality:
- it doesn’t increase overall turnout
- it doesn’t increase youth turnout, and in fact young people cast the fewest votes using Internet voting
- it crashes
That is to say, Internet voting doesn’t even have the benefits claimed for it, setting aside the fact that even if it did, it would be a terrible idea from a security and election transparency perspective.
I don’t have the ability to go through every single one of the hundreds of 2018 Municipal Election reports from the hundreds of (mostly tiny) municipalities in Ontario that used Internet voting, many of them offering only Internet voting (no paper option at all). But I can give as an example Hanover, Ontario, with 5,411 eligible voters.
Report CAO-05-19 – 2018 Post Election & Accessibility Report, pp. 113-125 of February 4, 2019 Committee of the Whole.pdf
The final voters’ list was comprised of 5,411 eligible electors with 2,632 or 48.64% voting. This represented a decline from 56.39% in 2014
Voter turnout was markedly lower among those aged 35 or younger than with those aged 55 or older. Turnout was highest among those aged 60 and over, consistently bettering 60% for both men and women. However, turnout was lowest among those under the age of 35.
Voting Outage and State of Emergency
Due to technical issues in the closing hours of the election, the clerk declared an emergency under section 53 of the Act. Under the circumstances, the decision was made to extend the voting period by 24 hours with the polls officially closing at 8:00 pm on October 23, 2018. 49 municipalities, all clients of Dominion Voting Systems (DVS), were affected by the same technical problem and extended their voting period.
I find it remarkable that given that Internet voting delivers on none of its supposed turnout benefits, and fails in ways that paper elections can’t, Ontario municipalities still plan to use it for the next election.
These results about turnout aren’t new – you can see many other examples in my blog post Online voting doesn’t increase turnout.
I have also extracted Grey County 2018 Municipal Election Turnout, which gives a sense not only of the size of the municipalities involved, but also shows that none of them exceeded 50% turnout.
In order to give an overall sense of the election, I include 2018 Municipal Elections Post-Election Summary by Municipal Service Office (MSO) – there are five regional MSOs. It shows a more complicated turnout picture, but basically the conclusion is that Internet voting doesn’t bring dramatic turnout improvements.