Markham voters can now cast their eballot

Seven out of ten voters in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) would prefer to vote online as opposed to at the polling stations, according to a recent survey conducted by Delvinia Interactive.

Delvinia, a Toronto-based marketing, media and online research firm, conducted the survey through their consumer research panel dubbed AskingCanadians comprised of a sample size of just over 1,000 GTA residents.

“Internet voting is a total digital experience,” says Delvinia president Adam Froman. “It’s not just about being able to vote online…it’s about using various digital channels to create an experience for voters to engage them in voting, and also deal with voter apathy.”

And for the upcoming municipal elections, Markham residents will get to participate in that “digital experience.”

In order to access the Internet voting, residents must register on the site on or before November 1, according to Markham’s town clerk, Sheila Birrell.

“Markham has a high-tech profile, so this (voting online) fits well with the town, and it’s very progressive,” says Birrell.

The advanced polling initiative is a partnership between the Town of Markham and Delvinia.

Markham had conducted an online voting pilot in 2003, and Birrell said one of the motivating factors in offering this option was to increase voter turnout.

“That’s what we thought initially, but what we learned is that it just made it easier for people who actually wanted to vote,” she says. “It’s good for accessibility for the elderly and the disabled, and you can even vote if you’re away on holidays or while at work.”

The option of online voting is especially appealing to the younger demographic, particularly those between the ages of 18 to 34, says Froman.

The study also showed that particular age group was least likely to vote at traditional polling stations, according to Froman.

“My personal feeling is that the Internet and technology is such a part of people’s lives today, they’re looking for more convenient methods to participate in things, and if it’s not convenient they won’t do it.”

In addition to Markham, the City of Peterborough is also offering Internet voting, but these municipalities are in the minority when it comes to providing the online option.

“There’s still a perceived fear of the issue of fraud,” says Froman. “But the Internet voting is for a specific period of time, so the amount of attention and security during that period of time the voting process is live is extremely high, and the technology partner to Markham is on full alert during that period.”

Birrell is hopeful the online option will help to increase their voter turnout, which in their last election was approximately 27 per cent.

“I’m hoping that more people will take advantage of the Internet and become interested in voting that way.”