On-line Voting at York doing jut fine, Thank You!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Written by Frank Cappadocia

Dear Mr. Donaldson,

I am writing with regards to comments attributed to Ms Becky Wallace during the Central Student Association board meeting of January 17, 2006 and reported in www.thecannon.ca on January 19, 2007.

The article makes the following statement regarding electronic voting: "Ryerson, U of T and York all tried it in student government elections and all three of them eventually went back to paper ballots,” says Academic Commissioner Becky Wallace who voted against online voting, citing the example of electoral fraud at York as a worst-case scenario.” In the belief that this is an accurate quote, I feel it necessary to respond to the inaccuracy of this statement.

Firstly, all but two of York's eighteen levy funded student organizations continue to employ on-line voting. Students believe that it is more secure than paper balloting and that it has demonstrated an increase in student participation. Secondly, there has never been a case of electoral fraud at York through our E-vote system. We have worked closely with our student leaders, computer systems support staff, and auditors to ensure the integrity and security of this system. We believe that the use of electronic voting systems will become more common in the future in Canada as evidenced by the number of municipalities that are now employing this technology to increase accessibility to the political process for constituents and enhance participation rates.

Thank you for the opportunity to correct these inaccurate statements. I would be happy to share York's electronic voting experiences with members of the Central Student Association to assist their understanding of the benefits and security measures required to ensure its success.


Frank Cappadocia, (MA)
Centre for Student Community & Leadership Development (SC&LD)
York University

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  1. Posted by: on Feb 8, 2007 @ 3:12pm

    Hi Frank,

    In the report the Online Elections Committee brought to the CSA board, our own External Commissioner talked personally to the York Federation of Students (YFS).

    The YFS, which is the student union, provided a very helpful firsthand critique of online voting. The reason they felt electoral fraud happened with the online elections was because students were giving away their votes to others. Because students were given links to vote instead of passwords, vote links were being passed on to other students. People were literally walking around with laptops asking for others to forward them their vote.
    Additionally, other concerns members of YFS raised included calling the online voting process "disenfranchising", in that students stayed at home and voted instead of being involved and informed of the platforms of candidates.

    I am thoroughly confident in the information we received because the CSA External Commissioner talked to YFS, the student representatives, personally.
    As I understand, you work with the administration of the University and not with the elected student union.

  2. Posted by: on Feb 8, 2007 @ 3:12pm

    I am currently getting in touch again with YFS to find out why their student representatives and university administration would have such differing opinions about online voting. I will post their reply as soon as we are in touch.

    Becky Wallace

  3. Posted by: Denis on Feb 12, 2007 @ 11:49am

    1) I don't understand why we wouldn't just use the central login and password as a form of identification. Why did they use such a bizarre method at York?

    2) The logic that online voting disenfranchises voters is baffling. Online voting could only stand to reduce barriers, by cutting out the step of forcing them to walk to the polling booth and waiting in line. There is no reason why the physical act of going to vote should also somehow be tied to the physical act of going to a debate. Furthermore, almost all methods of being "involved and informed" can be conducted online. Debates can be posted on Youtube, candidates can answer questions via e-mail. More importantly though, those that vote online can still go to real live debates and have no less reason to do so than those who vote using paper.

  4. Posted by: Stefanie Fraser on Mar 14, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    I've voted online twice now at York, and I just thought I'd offer a first hand account of how it works.

    Step One: You sign into your personal York webpage using your very secret password. Once you are logged in, you have all sorts of access to financial records, email, personal information, course selection etc.
    Step Two: Vote.
    Step Three: Logout if you're on a public computer. If you don't log out, you leave all your personal information open to everyone. If you don't logout, York will log you out automatically to protect your information.

    If you give away your "ballot-link", the person who you give it to can still travel to other parts of your page after they've stolen the vote. I would rather NOT have my personal information in the hands of the kind of person who would stuff an electronic ballot box - would you? I find the online voting extremely convenient as I'm not at York main regularly. I'm a commuter, only there once a week, parking rates are sky-high, and if I can participate in the student body from home, I'm thrilled.

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