Electronic Voting Data to Be Stored in Canada, Elections Canada Chief Says

Electronic Voting Data to Be Stored in Canada, Elections Canada Chief Says
Elections Canada Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault waits for the Procedure and House Affairs committee to begin on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 2, 2023. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Andrew Chen

Elections Canada is pushing ahead with a pilot plan to introduce an electronic voting list, allowing electors to submit their votes remotely to the agency from any location.

Stéphane Perrault, chief electoral officer for Elections Canada, said the agency aims to modernize its services, and the electronic poll book will “reduce wait times and help address the very serious challenges created by a diminishing workforce.”

“We plan to introduce electronic lists in a way that is prudent and gradual, ensuring at all times the security and reliability of the voting process,” he said while testifying at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) on May 18.
In an earlier statement, published in Elections Canada’s 2023–24 Departmental Plan, Perrault said data and applications would be migrated to the cloud. Elections Canada has also issued contract notices seeking solutions fir automating the voter lists, and exploring a scheme where electors could vote anywhere in the country. Some MPs have expressed concerns about cybersecurity vulnerabilities,  according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

Following recent scrutiny, Perrault walked back his statement about storing data in the cloud with undisclosed server locations, saying on May 18 that Elections Canada is working on a software solution to have the data stored “on a secure database in Canada and will be accessed through a private secure network.”

“Can you confirm whether that software solution was developed in-house or externally?” Conservative MP John Nater asked during the PROC meeting.

Perrault answered that the software system is “developed in-house, based on the security standards,” adding that he is confident it will be tested thoroughly and in partnership with the government of Canada. He also noted that a “private” cloud solution will be used to access the data.

“It has gone through a very robust security assessment and it is monitored both privately and publicly in the sense that it’s monitored by our private sector partner, as well as the Communications Security Establishment Canada,” he said.

Elections Canada will not deploy this electronic voter list in the upcoming four byelections in 2023.

“It will not be deployed until I am satisfied that it is ready and secure to be deployed,” Perrault said, pledging to report back to PROC prior to launching the system.

Tara MacIsaac contributed to this report.