Brakes on Headlong Rush Into Online Voting

Last week I was able to participate in a "deputation" of concerned citizens (who happen to have a pretty strong set of software development credentials, as well as running bespoke development firms) who presented our case to the Christchurch City Council on why their plan to "trial" online voting in 2016 was a very bad idea. We had to throw things together in one day because we didn't get much warning of the opportunity from the Council (consultation on this issue hasn't been a strong suit).

I've already written about this (and here), as have my colleagues (see references in those other posts). so I'll simply let our presentation speak for itself - we encourage you to use these arguments to address your own local governments if they seem hell-bent on rushing into the folly of online voting.

Following our presentation and the question and answer period, we went outside the chambers to debrief, and were met by some councillors during their morning tea break... several told us that prior to our submission, they'd been gung-ho supporters of the (inaptly named, as it turns out) "trial" of online voting (it'll be a real, binding vote, not a trial). They invited us back into the chambers to observe first a presentation by the Council's Democracy Services Manager, Darryl Griffin.



Some media coverage of the event from RadioNZ and Fairfax (Stuff).

Then there were further segments with questions from councillors. Some of them demonstrated that many of the concepts were still pretty slippery, but it was clear that the councillors were very suspicious of the rosy picture they'd originally been sold.

So, at the end of the discussion, there was an impassioned statement from Jamie Gough in support of the trial... and then all of the other councillors (12 of the 13) proceeded to vote against supporting the trial.

Based on our informal chat with councillors during morning tea, that sounds like an almost total reversal for most if not all of the councillors besides Jamie.

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I originally chose Disqus because it helped to minimise the spam commenting that, previously, required a lot of administration time. I justified its use based on the idea that I always use Free and Open Source Software if a viable option exists in a particular domain. I haven't yet found something comparable that works with Drupal... but still, the cognitive dissonance of requiring people wanting to comment on my posts to sacrifice their freedom to do so became too onerous.

If you have a comment (or a suggestion on a Drupal 7-friendly, spam resistant commenting process with good admin and commenter notification recipes! - I recently tried isso, and it's cool, but sadly, not well suited to Drupal, although given it's open source, I might have a go at changing that) - get in touch!