Canadian Podcast Series - Technology and the Electoral Process

This week's Canadian IP podcast had yet another interesting twist. Our Liberal government has been on shaky ground lately, and on Monday, they did not survive a non-confidence vote. This was not a huge surprise, and much to the public's chagrin, Canada enters the Xmas holiday season with an election on its hands.

All of a sudden we're in election mode, and I had the good fortune to speak with someone yesterday who's very connected to how technology is impacting the electoral process. So, the topic was very timely, and it was a nice way to dovetail another aspect of how technologies like IP are playing a role in daily life - sometimes visibly, and sometimes under the hood.

My guest yesterday was Ed Hetu. He's in independent IT consultant in the Ottawa area, and has been doing electoral work for many years at both the federal and provincial level. Ed provided some great insights on how IP and IP-related technologies are making the process of managing elections easier. He noted that the real problems are more social and psychological than technical, since most of what he's involved with is behind the scenes.

Most people are quite comfortable and familiar with manually-completed ballots, and there is still some suspicion around electronic or online balloting. While the potential for abuse and security leaks is real, Ed notes that there is a silver lining to all these advances. If used effectively, technology can enrich the democratic process by making it easier for the public to vote more often and on a wider variety of issues. Elections, polls, referenda, etc. can be conducted quickly and inexpensively, opening the door for wider participation in our daily political life. This isn't all about IP, but it's certainly a part of it, and I have no doubt that IP will find a good home in the government sector once its potential is better understood and issues such as privacy, integrity and security are properly addressed.

The VON Radio folks managed to turn this one around in record time, so the post is ready for listening now. Thanks Mikey!