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Internet voting: study filed and mandate requested to continue with our work

11 June 2020

Categories: Institutional, Voting

Élections Québec filed its study on Internet voting in the National Assembly today.

This study:

  • Evaluates the effects of a potential introduction of Internet voting on Québec’s electoral system.
  • Explains issues surrounding the introduction of this voting option, in particular based on past experiences in Canada and around the world.
  • Presents the risks associated with Internet voting and examines potential solutions to prevent, eliminate or mitigate them.
  • Sets out the results of Élections Québec’s consultations on this topic in the fall of 2019.
  • Explores perspectives on introducing this option and outlines avenues for further reflection, as well as recommendations.

We are now asking Québec’s MNAs to provide us with a new mandate to continue with our work. The next step would involve providing a concrete definition of a potential testing phase, determining specific requirements for this voting option, evaluating costs and establishing a timetable.

We would welcome the opportunity to continue with our work because Internet voting, in our view, is likely to boost voting accessibility, particularly for certain groups of electors.

Cautious and gradual approach

Our study includes nearly 30 recommendations aimed at meeting the most stringent requirements in terms of accessibility, security and reliability, among other things. The introduction of Internet voting is more than a technical or technological question: this option must uphold the core principles of democratic voting, i.e. accessibility, free exercise of voting rights, secret ballot, integrity of the process and results as well as transparency.

For those reasons, the mandate we are seeking is not aimed at introducing Internet voting in Québec, for the time being. What we are proposing is a three-step process:

  1. Providing a concrete definition of the testing phase, determining specific requirements for this voting option, evaluating costs and establishing a timetable.*
  2. Conducting tests (pilot projects).*
  3. Formally adopting Internet voting.*
*The mandate we are seeking today would enable us to begin work on the first of these three steps. If entrusted with a mandate, we will review the situation with voters and elected officials once the first step is completed with a view to determining whether we should proceed any further. Information and transparency will be our watchwords.

Results of Internet voting consultations

The consultations conducted in the fall of 2019 on the topic of Internet voting indicate that public opinion is divided. The debate hinges on issues of accessibility and security; there is no overall consensus.

Telephone opinion survey

A telephone opinion survey was carried out with a group of 1,000 respondents.

As the only consultation method that can be applied to virtually the entire population, the survey indicated that 57% of the respondents were in favour of Internet voting. In general terms, the level of support was higher among young voters and dropped off as the respondents’ age increased.

Online consultation

The online consultation provided more enthusiastic proponents of Internet voting with an opportunity to voice their opinions: 76% of approximately 21,500 respondents who completed the questionnaires were in favour of this voting method.

Some 40 briefing documents were also submitted by individuals, organizations, companies, students, research teams and specialists. Most of those documents expressed an unfavourable opinion of Internet voting in Québec. A number of them discussed various considerations that should be addressed or conditions that should be met before this technology is introduced.

Citizen panel

A citizen panel, conducted in association with the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM), provided a forum for 14 individuals who studied the issue of Internet voting and put forward their opinion. 

Most of the panelists were of the opinion that Internet voting should not be implemented immediately and that more research is required. However, they did not reach a consensus on whether Internet voting should be introduced in Québec. Nine of the panelists said they were in favour of bringing in Internet voting under certain conditions; five were opposed, although they were open to the idea of conducting further research. In their final statement of opinion, a majority of the panelists was in favour of Internet voting, while a minority was opposed.

Élections Québec also consulted with members of two bodies that it presides over, the Citizen round table and the Accessibility Committee, as well as with representatives of the provincial political parties.

For further information, please visit the related webpage, which contains:

  • The complete study.
  • A summary of the study.
  • The results of our consultations (in French only).
  • Position papers and resolutions submitted during the consultations (in French only).
The Charter of the French language and its regulations govern the consultation of English-language content.

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