“We do our research WITH Indigenous peoples, not ON them”
When Chelsea Gabel started studying how online voting contributes to First Nations’ capacity to ratify their own legislation, it was still a very new idea — she figures maybe 15 Indigenous communities in Canada used online voting at the time.
That was in 2014.
“Now there are more than 100, and we’re getting contacted left, right and centre for our expertise and to come into communities and talk about online voting,” Gabel says.
“We can’t keep up.”
Online voting makes it easier for First Nations members, especially those who live off-reserve, to voice their opinions on issues that matter to them, Gabel says. It allows many First Nations to reach the quorum they need to ratify their own laws and policies.
“Communities are using online voting to ratify their own constitutions.”
Gabel’s community-based, participatory approach to research is a huge part of the demand from communities to learn about and adopt online voting.
“Historically, researchers have gone into communities, collected data and flown out,” leaving communities unsure how their information will be used, she says.
“We worked directly with the communities on this project,” Gabel says. “All the information we’re presenting belongs to them, and we want to be sure they’re heard.”