Online voting drives higher voter turnout in Town of Markham election, study finds



    - Nine in ten Markham e-voters say they are "very likely" to vote online
    in next election -

    MARKHAM, ON, June 8 /CNW/ - As the Internet continues to change the way
we live, work and play, it is also starting to transform Canadian democracy. A
report issued today by Delvinia Interactive, the Town of Markham's digital
agency for the 2006 election, indicates that online voting engages typically
apathetic and difficult-to-reach citizens in the democratic process and offers
a solution to voter apathy. The Understanding the Digital Voter Experience
report documents the surge in online voters in Markham's 2006 election and
offers insight to municipal, provincial and federal levels of government that
the benefits outweigh the risks associated with voting online.

    
    Among the report's most significant findings:
    -   91 per cent of those who voted online said they would be "very
        likely" to vote online in the future.
    -   One in five (21 per cent) Markham online voters said they did not
        vote at all in the 2003 municipal election.
    -   88 per cent of online voters in 2006 cite "convenience" as their
        primary reason for voting online
    -   Markham saw online voting jump 48 per cent from 7,210 in 2003 to
        10,639 online ballots cast in 2006.
    -   This contributed to an overall 2006 voter turnout of 37.6 per cent,
        well above the typical turnout of 28 per cent for a municipal
        election.
    

    "Markham is a leader in technology, so it's important to deliver as many
services as possible electronically," says Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti. "It
is key for us to make it easier for all residents to be part of our community
and to participate in municipal elections. Overall, I continue to support
Internet voting in Markham municipal elections."

    Demand for online voting at municipal, provincial and federal levels

    The Delvinia report indicates early adopters prefer voting online and
would like to see it used by other levels of government and their peers.
Ninety per cent of 2006 Markham online voters would be "very likely" to vote
online if it was offered in a provincial election, while 89 per cent would do
so for a federal election. Seventy-eight per cent of online voters were "very
satisfied" with the online voting process, while 80 per cent said they would
be very likely to recommend online voting to others. Seventy-nine per cent of
online voters indicated that at least one other person in their household
voted online in 2006.
    "As politicians harness the power of the Internet to reach voters through
websites, e-mail and blogging, why are citizens still forced to go offline to
cast their ballots?" says Adam Froman, President & CEO, Delvinia Interactive.
"It's only a matter of time before governments offer an Internet voting option
and manage the associated risks - Markham demonstrates it can be done, and
done successfully."

    
    The report indicates that the Town of Markham's e-voter experience is
working:
    -   88 per cent of 2006 online voters cited convenience as their primary
        reason for voting online.
    -   98 per cent of those who used the Markham Votes website found the
        information on it very useful or useful.
    -   86 per cent of those who voted online did so from home.
    

    Developing the e-voter experience

    The site http://www.markhamvotes2006.ca acted as the primary
communications hub for the Markham election, providing information on both
online and 'in line' voting through compelling demos, video and animation.
Traditional print and broadcast advertising, out-of-home, public relations,
informational kiosks and voicemail broadcasts all worked together to raise
awareness of Markham's online voting initiative. In 2006, Delvinia refreshed
the site design, enabled mobile text message alerts and added an Add Your
Voice feature that offers citizens the opportunity to sound off on the voting
process and election issues.

    About Understand the Digital Voter Experience: The Delvinia Report on
    Internet Voting in the 2006 Town of Markham Municipal Election

    A total of 4,633 online voters in the 2006 Markham election responded to
a questionnaire following the Markham election on November 13, 2006. The
report, produced by Delvinia Interactive with results analyzed by Research
Strategy Group, can be found at http://www.delvinia.com/egov.

    About Delvinia Interactive

    Delvinia interactive is a leader in the creation and implementation of
interactive marketing strategies that deliver a true Digital Customer
Experience. Founded in 1998 and based in Toronto, Delvinia integrates insight
at every step of the digital and interactive process, from experience design
and use of research to production, execution and measurement of results.    
Delvinia has received awards for its work from Sympatico/MSN, CMA, CANARIE and
MarketingSherpa.

    About the Town of Markham

    The Town of Markham, located northeast of Toronto, is a municipality of
more than 265,000 residents renowned for its small town appeal. Markham is a
community that is an environmental leader, that embraces technological
innovation, celebrates diversity and is characterized by healthy and vibrant
neighbourhoods.





For further information:

For further information: to request an interview, please contact: Robert
Manne - Edelman, (416) 979-1120, robert.manne@edelman.com; Town of Markham
Corporate Communications, Marjorie Rebane, (905) 479-7754

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DELVINIA INTERACTIVE

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