Will Internet voting cost small Canadian town $10,000 to 30,000?

As CTVotersCount readers know, our Secretary of the State has been charged by the Legislature “within available appropriations, recommend a method to allow for on-line voting by military personnel stationed out of state”. Its quite a task to do what the Defense Department, scientists, and security experts say cannot be done with today’s technology, at any cost, while taking resources from operations and other initiatives to make the report.

Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada is considering the same thing for its elections, but wisely is considering funding a detailed business case, including security and recountability before proceeding: <read>

Munic­i­pal Affairs Min­is­ter Hec­tor Goudreau requested the busi­ness case in order to for­mal­ize a city request to pilot online voting.

“The busi­ness case would need to address the per­ti­nent issues, such as the need for Inter­net vot­ing in the city, who is the licensed provider, how is secu­rity guar­an­teed, how is voter val­i­da­tion dealt with, what are the costs, and how are results ver­i­fied and recounts con­ducted,” Goudreau wrote.

The estimated costs of the business case?

Audrey Cerny, City Hall’s leg­isla­tive ser­vices man­ager, told the com­mit­tee it would take at least four to five weeks of staff time to develop a busi­ness case. But she said it is pos­si­ble to develop one that is less costly than the esti­mated $30,000.

“It is depend­ing on how much exter­nal con­sul­tant time is needed,” she said. “If the con­sul­tant is uti­lized for a fewer num­ber of days, the costs obvi­ously could be lower. So essen­tially it could be $10,000.”

In order for the province to study the con­cept and make a deci­sion in time for the 2013 munic­i­pal elec­tion, a busi­ness case would have to be fin­ished by Sep­tem­ber or Octo­ber, she said. That means an out­side con­sul­tant would be necessary.

“There’s no guar­an­tee (our) inter­nal resources may be able to fully com­plete this with­out using an exter­nal con­sul­tant,” she said.

It sounds like they are asking the right questions, but may be getting in over their head in doing the “business case”. We are bit skeptical that it can be done will for $30,000 or $10,000. Yet, perhaps with effective research into what others have tried a general cost estimate can be obtained and a review of the the security risks can be developed. They should also be wary of the vendor being selected as part of the business case, or of relying on vendors for “helping” with the security and recount portions of the evaluation.

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