Other voting considerations

This website has focused primarily on the mechanics of an electoral system which improve the proportionality of representation in the House of Commons. There are a number of other important issues which should be considered, but are not intertwined with the mechanical aspects of elections. These paragraphs are a brief comment on some of those other issues.

Accessibility

It is important that a high priority be placed on ensuring that all Canadians are able to vote. This includes Canadians with disabilities, ex-patriot Canadians, Canadians in remote regions and students. Students in particular may have been disadvantaged by recent changes to the elections act.  It is important to engage students, as early voting participation will lead to more involvement later in life, something which Canada sorely needs.

Enumeration

Enumeration has been eliminated from the standard election activities, and Elections Canada relies on people and the parties to advise of changes, births, deaths and movement of people to new locations. It does concern me that the parties have a significant role in this determination, as it opens the door to the possibility of vote stuffing through false identification. Elections Canada is in a much better position than I to know if this is a valid concern.

Online Voting

We have been very fortunate in Canada to avoid the kinds of problems such as the 2000 Presidential Election in the United States, where voting machines and fine interpretations of valid and invalid votes had a significant impact on the outcome of the election. Part of this legacy is our use of paper ballots, which are traceable, audit-able and secure.

However, it is also clear that we need to examine the use of online voting to ensure that shut-ins and people in remote communities can register their vote. There are concerns of fraudulent identification and hacking of voting sites. This issue alone is a significant undertaking, and may not be able to be implemented by the 2019 election.

That being said, it is still an important and necessary evolution of our voting system. We trust online banking, online purchasing and online dating. Surely, we can find a system which facilitate online voting as well.

The long term future of online voting is quite exciting. There are opportunities to break many of the longstanding limits to our expression of voting. For example, with online voting, you might be given the opportunity to change your vote up until the closing of the polls. Another possibility that would build on this would be the reporting of interim results. Seeing another party in the lead would clearly motivate some individuals to ensure that their vote is counted!

Age of Voting

Many people have suggested lower the voting age to 16.  I think that this is a wise move, as I believe that at this age, people are actually more engaged with the politics then they might be later in life. Early participation will lead to life long participation, which would be of great benefit to the authenticity of the electoral system.

I would go further and suggest that the age should be lowered to 14. After all, the Government of Canada implements decisions which impact the long term, and those who are younger will live longer with the consequences of these decisions. If the voting age was 14, then we would find that many would have their first voting experience in high school, and those that did not, because they are too young, would be exposed to the decision processes that their older peers are going through.

I am not afraid of handing some power to the 14-18 year old demographic. They are better informed about the world than any previous generation, and I believe they would vote responsibly.

Election Spending

I believe that spending during the writ period should be frozen where it is. Further, I think that there should be a spending limit placed on parties between writ periods, particularly with regard to public advertising. There should be no spending advantage to dropping the writ early, as was done for the 2015 election. Writ limits should not be pro-rated by campaign length.

Political Advertising

It is within our power to ban negative advertising by political parties and candidates, and I believe that such a ban is in the best interests of Canadians, and in the interests of increasing long term participation in the electoral process. We run the risk of diminishing the dignity of the offices which we campaign for when negative advertising is employed. Our government is too important to be sullied by partisan interests.

Political Funding

The fairest form of political funding the per vote subsidy. This subsidy rewards parties who receive support from the people, and often provides voters with an additional incentive to get out and vote. Even though the per vote subsidy is quite low on a per vote basis, voters carry the knowledge that they are helping their cause monetarily by casting their vote. This is an important incentive for some voters.

If necessary, this can be funded through a cut to the 60% candidate refunds. Compounded over several elections, it means that every dollar can be spent 2.5 times. These refunds are generally only available to candidates who have had long term party participation, which disadvantages newer parties who receive less than 10% of the vote.