While Mayrand has the mandate to conduct tests on alternative voting methods – and has committed to seeking approval for a trial of internet voting in a by-election in 2014 or later – full-fledged online voting would require significant changes to the Canada Elections Act. The security of the vote would be of primary concern.
Those who have followed this issue will note a subtle change in wording in Mayrand's plans. While before, he was committed only to what was termed “e-voting” – electronic voting conducted in a relatively traditional polling place – his report to Parliament makes it clear that he is considering a recommendation of something broader.
“Elections Canada [the federal agency Mayrand heads] has been examining internet voting as a complementary and convenient way to cast a ballot.”
Driving Mayrand's recommendations are the dual realities of stagnant voter turnout – 61.1 percent for the 2011 vote, including dismal participation by young Canadians – and ever-increasing costs. The May 12 election cost Canadian taxpayers CDN$291 million, or about CDN$12 per voter.
Once Parliament reconvenes this fall, Mayrand will appear before a committee to discuss his conclusions and recommendations in greater detail.