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Online Voting in a First Nation in Canada: Implications for Participation and Governance

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNSC,volume 11759)

Abstract

Indigenous communities are increasingly adopting technology to create digital opportunities for members and enhance engagement and governance. One recent trend in the adoption of online services is the use of online voting. To date, more than 90 Indigenous communities in Canada and the United States have deployed online voting with many more considering implementation. This article draws upon interviews with local government officials and voter exit surveys as part of community-engaged research with Wasauksing First Nation in Ontario, Canada to explore the specific opportunities and challenges online voting presents for governance and engagement in Indigenous communities and implications for future adoption. Specifically, we examine a 2017 Land Code vote where online voting was introduced to achieve a participation threshold required to pass the framework. Our findings point to online voting as a key tool to modernize Indigenous governance and enhance participatory capacity by making voting more accessible for members. We argue that online voting is an engine that can advance self-determination and support communities seeking an iterative path to self-government.

Keywords

  • Online voting
  • Indigenous governance
  • First Nations
  • Self-determination
  • Canada
  • Community-Engaged Research

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The paper voter sample includes more women (64%) than men (34%), with 2% identifying as ‘other’. Paper voter respondents have a median age of 46 years, household income range of $20,000 to $29,000, median education level of “some technical community college”, and are likely to reside on reserve. The sample of online voters, by comparison, also contains more women (71%) than men (29%). This sample also reports a median age of 46, household income range between $80,000 and $99,000, median education of completed “technical, community college”, and are more likely to live off-reserve.

  2. 2.

    While the N’s are small, they are very good based on the size of the community.

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Acknowledgement

All authors contributed equally to this research. Authorship is listed alphabetically. We extend our deep thanks to Wasauksing First Nation for taking part in this research. Research undertaken for this article was financially supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Chelsea Gabel’s Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Well-Being, Community-Engagement and Innovation.

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Budd, B., Gabel, C., Goodman, N. (2019). Online Voting in a First Nation in Canada: Implications for Participation and Governance. In: , et al. Electronic Voting. E-Vote-ID 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11759. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30625-0_4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30625-0_4

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