Sometimes, when you look at modernizing an old way of doing things, it gives you an opportunity to ask yourself whether the old way of doing that thing was a good thing after all.
There’s a story from P.E.I. about how the government’s elections’ office is starting to modernize the old practice of sharing voter information with political parties during an election. The old way was pretty discreet, and I suspect most people weren’t even aware. It occurred when a voter presented themselves at an election voting station, presented their I.D., and then they were checked off the voter list. While this was happening, a volunteer from the political parties sat nearby and similarly crossed that same voter off their list at the same time. During the course of the election, the volunteer would report back to the political party, informing them of who had voted and who had not.
The more modern way of doing this is to have the government official keep track of who has voted electronically and then simply supply that information directly to the political parties during the election period. No more need for volunteers to keep track. More efficient, right?
The new approach, however, has raised concerns in P.E.I. and Privacy Commissioner Karen Rose is investigating. For me, however, both the modern and the more traditional way of voter surveillance raises issues. Were you aware that your decision to vote or not was being tracked by both the government and the political parties? And were you OK with that? While I understand there might be some very good reasons to try and motivate people to vote, is this the best way to go about it? It seems to me that this old practice – even if modernized – is something that merits further discussion. What does the average Canadian think? Would love to hear your thoughts.
Hope you have a good long weekend.
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