During the April 18, 2017 General Committee meeting, Aurora Town staff presented recommendations to our Town Council to consider moving forward with internet-voting only as an alternative voting method for the next Municipal Elections 2018. The majority of our Town Council opposed the idea. In the video here you can watch the interesting round table discussion (shortened a bit) mainly surrounding the potential security issues related to internet-voting.
Perhaps in the future that same discussion may not even take place. At the end of the day those challenges are not going away, and instead of shutting down the idea, the next council may have more courage and will choose to tackle those challenges. Personally, I am all for tackling them now.
Yes, security is an issue. It is a big issue in fact with internet-voting as well as with everything else we do online today. Whether we shop, bank, or communicate, each has risks with potential for different detrimental effects on our lives. Anything related to the Internet will always have security risks, always. There is no easy solution just because security risks are part of human evil and often they cannot be predicted why the motivation, how it will be done, when and where it will take place. Either you are first or last or take a scientific approach, risks will always be there.
However, we can always continue to protect ourselves by taking all the necessary security measures to be proposed by IT security consultants to aim for a 100% bullet proof internet-voting infrastructure. It is also imperative that voters are educated and aware of the security risks and also the consequences of illegal activities.
The Town staff and Governance Review Ad Hoc Committee recommended ‘internet-voting only’ with outlined details in the report. It is the Council’s final decision which route should be pursued. I can’t comment on the timing or deadline related to make the decision; however, I believe the report presented to Council contained sufficient information to support the introduction of internet-voting as an alternative voting method for the Town of Aurora.
“… security risks are part of human evil and often they cannot be predicted why the motivation, how it will be done, when and where it will take place.”
It was clear in the report that the Town Staff recommended internet-voting and security risks would need to be mitigated as one of the challenges. Some Councillors voiced concerns after searching online themselves and finding older security risk studies that were not referenced in the Town Staff report. Debating what information should be included versus excluded in the report is fine; however the report recommendation must be based on supporting information. How would the report be received if it appeared to be contradictory or indecisive? ‘Why recommend then?’ someone would eventually ask.
As I mentioned, this is the direction our society is moving, security risks are not going away, and we will be better off as a community if we face the challenge together soon, in my opinion of course. However, I do believe that it is Council’s responsibility to debate the report and challenge the recommendation based on their own findings as well. Disappointment is a stretch. Readiness is another issue.
Anna Lozyk Romeo