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Internet Voting in the Quebec Context - A Study

We published a study on Internet voting in June 2020.

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.

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. These recommendations must be taken into consideration in order to uphold and put into practice the principles on which Québec elections are based, i.e. accessibility, free exercise of voting rights, secret ballot, integrity of the process and results as well as transparency. The recommendations, however, leave the door open to various scenarios for introducing this option.

The study suggests that the potential introduction of Internet voting in Québec is part of 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*.

* Each of these steps would be followed by consultations with voters and elected officials with a view to determining whether any further action should be taken. 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. 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. 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.

Citizen round table

The 12 members of the Citizen round table recommended that Internet voting should not be implemented in the short term, due to the related risks. They did, however, recommend studying the opportunities and risks associated with this voting method.

Accessibility committee

The 9 members of the Accessibility Committee are of the opinion that the advantages of Internet voting outweigh the disadvantages. Therefore, they are in favour of introducing this voting method.

Authorized provincial political parties

A majority of the representatives of the 15 political parties in attendance at the meeting were of the opinion that the risks of Internet voting outweigh the advantages.

Available documents

Documents concerning the fall 2019 consultation

Documents submitted during the consultation (in French only).