Funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, a team of researchers from McMaster University, University of Toronto, York University, and Carleton University are working collaboratively with First Nations in Canada to better understand the impact of internet voting and e-democracy software on participation and governance at the community level.
More than 20 First Nations in Canada have used internet voting for elections or referendums in the past several years and many more are considering doing so. Reasons for adoption can include: hopes of increased engagement among off-reserve members and/ or youth, improving voter turnout, meeting quorum in an important referendum, innovating with technology, and, for some, deployment of internet voting is seen as a means of working toward self-government and building community capacity.
This project is a partnership between researchers, First Nations, and a number of other actors (government, NGOs, and industry).
Some key research questions include:
- How does internet voting affect voter turnout in First Nation communities?
- Does internet voting improve outreach and inclusion of community members (e.g., youth, off-reserve)?
- What kinds of barriers or problems do First Nations encounter in the deployment of internet voting?
- What kinds of benefits are observed by communities through the deployment of internet voting?
We recently worked with Whitefish River First Nation as they used internet voting for their referendum on Real Matrimonial Property Law.