Electronic voting in Canada

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It is a common misconception that there is no electronic voting in Canada. While the federal elections still use paper ballots, electronic voting technology has been used since at least the 1990s at the municipal level in some cities, and there are increasing efforts in a few areas to introduce it at a provincial level. Some municipalities provide Internet voting as an option.

There are no Canadian electronic voting standards.


For national elections, there is a uniform set of standards for voting. This governing law is the Canada Elections Act.

As of this writing, the Act is c. 9, assented to (made law) 31 May 2000. It has a provision


Electronic voting process

18.1 The Chief Electoral Officer may carry out studies on voting, including studies respecting alternative voting means, and may devise and test an electronic voting process for future use in a general election or a by-election. Such a process may not be used for an official vote without the prior approval of the committees of the Senate and of the House of Commons that normally consider electoral matters.

Federal Initiative to Increase Voter Turnout[edit]

It was reported that 'Elections Canada hoped to test web voting by 2013, beginning with a byelection. "The general philosophy is to take the ballot box to the voter," says Mayrand, Canada's chief electoral officer.' [1]

Elections Canada has released a report requesting approval to conduct an "electronic voting test-run in a byelection by 2013".[2]

Federal Dialogue on Internet Voting[edit]

On January 26, 2010 Elections Canada in conjunction with partners organised The Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue (Strategic Knowledge Cluster) - Internet Voting: What Can Canada Learn?[3] Examples of Internet voting from Europe and from Canadian municipalities were presented. Presentations are available at http://www.carleton.ca/europecluster/events/2010-01-26-InternetVotingWorkshop.html


Each province can choose its own voting machines and standards.


The VOTEX system was used in several municipalities throughout Alberta in October 2007.[4]

Alberta Bill 7 includes provisions for the examination of "new technology in casting ballots, including the possibility of voting over the Internet".[5]


On October 24, 2006 the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec released a report (in French only) "Report on the Evaluation of New Methods of Voting". In a press release, three root causes of problems with electronic voting machines in the 2005 municipal elections were identified:[6]

  • an imprecise legislative and administrative framework
  • absence of technical specifications, norms and standards
  • poor management of voting systems (especially lack of security measures)

He recommended that the current moratorium on the use of these systems be maintained, and leaves it up to the provincial legislature to decide whether or not to use electronic voting in future.


In September, 2004 the Chief Election Officer of Ontario released a report "Access, Integrity and Participation: Towards Responsive Electoral Processes for Ontario" which advocates the exploration of alternative (non-paper) voting channels, as well as other automated processes. To this end, he has issued two opportunities (requests for proposals): "Alternative Voting Methods - Pilot Application" and "Automated Voter Recording System".

The Democratic Renewal Secretariat of Ontario has election reform as part of its mandate. Their site states "we’ll examine whether and how to modernize our voting process, use technology better, and make it easier to vote."[citation needed]

New Brunswick[edit]

It was reported in the Globe and Mail on May 13, 2004 that "New Brunswick's chief electoral officer is reviewing the possibility of using electronic voting machines on a wide basis."[citation needed]


Each municipality can choose its own voting machines and standards, although in some provinces municipalities are required to follow provincial standards and regulations. For more information about the elections themselves, see Municipal elections in Canada.


Edmonton, Alberta offered touch-screen voting machines for advance voting in 2004.


Quebec held municipal elections in 2005. Numerous problems were reported with the voting machines used, and Pierre Bourque of Vision Montreal called for some re-votes. Approximately one year later, the Quebec Chief Electoral Officer released a report highly critical of the systems and processes used.


2010 Municipal Elections[edit]

CTV reports that 33 municipalities used the Intelivote Internet and telephone voting system. "The online and telephone voting system was used by 33 municipalities, causing several problems across the region."[7] Arnprior, Ontario extended their voting period by 24 hours due to the problems. Other municipalities extended their voting period by one hour.

In the Huntsville, Ontario election there was Internet voting provided by Canadian company Intelivote. Canada's Minister of Industry Tony Clement tweeted "Just voted in my municipality's election, online. Very convenient."[8] There was an error in sending some of the PINs out by postal mail; as a result, replacement PINs were mailed out.[9]

South Stormont, Ontario provided Internet and telephone voting in addition to traditional paper ballots.[10]

In Ottawa, Ontario votes are counted on optical mark-sense readers.

Arnprior, Ontario provided Internet and telephone voting[11] and was forced to extend voting by a further 24 hours due to problems with people logging in to the Intelivote system. The issue was traced to a hardware failure of one of the servers due to higher than expected load.[7][12][13][14][15]

Previous Elections[edit]

In an effort to address accessibility issues Kingston, Ontario offered touch-screen voting machines for advance voting in 2006 supplied by Diebold Election Systems, now Premiere Election Solutions.[16]

Since 1988, the City of St. Catharines has been using optical scan voting technology for tabulating votes during the Municipal Elections.[17]

The Ottawa municipal elections have used optical scan machines since 2003.[18]

Peterborough, Ontario introduced Internet voting in 2006 in addition to the more traditional methods.[19]

Markham, Ontario introduced an Internet voting system in 2003[20] The system was supplied by US company Election Systems & Software at a cost of $25,000. In 2006, Markham again used Internet voting and experienced a 48% growth in online voting.[21]

Jonathon Hollins, Canadian director of Election Systems & Software reports that "Voting on standalone touch-screen machines (Direct Recording Electronics), ... which also caters to the visually-impaired through an audio ballot, has been used in municipal elections held in Toronto, Edmonton, and the Ontario cities of Vaughan, Brantford, Oakville and Mississauga.[citation needed]

Windsor, Ontario used touch-screen balloting in a 2002 by-election and in the 2003 Ontario Municipal Election, but only at their advance polls.[citation needed]

A 2000 year-end report from Global Election Systems (formerly called Diebold Election Systems and now called Premier Election Solutions) states "Global reports add-on sales of 60 AccuVote systems to the City of Ottawa and 70 to the City of Hamilton as well as first-time sales of 60 AccuVote-TS systems to the City of Barrie".[citation needed]

New Brunswick[edit]

Saint John, New Brunswick used optical scanning machines in the 2004 municipal election.[citation needed]

Nova Scotia[edit]

In the Halifax Regional Municipality municipal election, 2008, residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality had the option of advance voting over the Internet.[22][23] Voters received a PIN in a letter sent specifically in their name to their address, and needed the PIN plus their date of birth to identify themselves to the system.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fekete, Jason (2008-09-06). "Black Mark". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  2. ^ Bryden, Joan (2009-06-26). "Elections Canada backs online voting". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  3. ^ Strategic Knowledge Cluster – Canada-Europe Transatlantic Dialogue (CETD) – January 26, 2010
  4. ^ VOTEX
  5. ^ Alberta overhauls election laws in time for likely provincial vote in 2012
  6. ^ Evaluation Report of New Methods of Voting
  7. ^ a b Electronic voting creates problems across eastern Ont.
  8. ^ https://twitter.com/TonyClement_MP/status/28473132792
  9. ^ Huntsville Press Release: Voter Information Letters (PDF)
  10. ^ South Stormont - Municipal Election 2010
  11. ^ Town staff provide overview of electronic voting process Voting in municipal election runs from Oct. 18-25
  12. ^ Technical glitch extends Arnprior vote 1 day
  13. ^ Intelivote explains voting problems in Arnprior
  14. ^ Ottawa Citizen - Overloaded e-vote system means Arnprior voters get another day to cast ballots reprinted in Vancouver Sun - Overloaded e-vote system means Arnprior voters get another day to cast ballots
  15. ^ Election Extended in Arnprior
  16. ^ Touch-Screen Voting Machines Employed For Election
  17. ^ City of St. Catharines - How to Vote
  18. ^ Ottawa City Hall - Voting FAQ
  19. ^ City of Peterborough - Internet voting
  20. ^ Markham voters go from in line to online 11/12/2003
  21. ^ Online voting drives higher voter turnout in Town of Markham election, study finds June 8, 2007
  22. ^ Halifax prepares for online voting, September 26, 2008
  23. ^ Halifax Regional Municipality - How to vote
  24. ^ Halifax Regional Municipality - Sample evoting letter

External links[edit]

Canadian Elections[edit]

Reports, Articles, Blogs[edit]