It’s surprising that a majority of B.C. municipal leaders are pushing for the provincial government to enable online voting in time for the 2018 local elections.

The discussion around online voting in B.C. is not a new one. Premier Christy Clark has previously expressed interest in further research on the topic and a discussion paper on Internet voting was released by Elections BC in 2011 that identified various issues.

The reasons behind the UBCM resolution are low voter turnout and disinterested youth. The argument is that online voting will boost the voter turnout (notoriously pathetic at the local level) and engage a demographic that is currently not casting ballots at polling stations. No doubt voting over the Internet will cause a jump in these numbers, but at what cost?

Security concerns around online voting software are still paramount, plus the Internet and Internet service is not reliable at the best of times. Unexplained glitches are still the norm, freak weather events can disrupt power, not to mention the increasingly sophisticated operations of hacker groups, many with political agendas. Just this past June, the hacker group Anonymous claimed responsibility for a cyber attack on the Government of Canada’s computer servers.

Yes, society takes the chance with online banking, but thefts can be discovered. How would a lost vote be tracked while ensuring the voter’s anonymity is protected? These problems and more must be addressed and solved before the B.C. government runs to meet a deadline. In the meantime, mandatory voting would be easier and safer to implement with guaranteed results.

See Friday’s Pioneer for an editorial by publisher Dean Midyette arguing for mandatory voting; and tell us what you think.