Electronic voting, especially voting via the Internet or remote electronic voting, is the subject of debate in many countries at the moment. Despite the fact that some models of electronic voting is already widely used by non-governmental organizations, the private sector, for informal / deliberative poll, the situation is different in the case of general elections / referendums. Some states are planning to introduce electronic voting and conduct a series of experiments. In some countries, because of the issues of information security electronic voting, especially the use of the Internet for voting at elections / referenda, meets resistance.
This project does not give any of recommendations in respect to any specific type of electronic voting, including voting via the Internet in general elections / referenda. However, in the following article will be discussed the benefits and risks associated with e-voting, as well as the necessary conditions to be taken into account in the introduction of electronic voting in the election process.
In the US the voting with the use of computer equipment, in which it is enough to touch the screen to express your preference becomes more and more popular. Although this new technique allows to count the votes in a short period and determine the winner in the election day, it is also fraught with problems which, according to some, could undermine public confidence in the elections.
Florida, November 2000. The results of the elections of the new president could be calculated only after a recount of paper ballots. Note that in these elections Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore participated. For this reason, for the next election, it was decided to use the electronic newsletters. And in 2004, the Americans were the first to try out in practice the electronic system.
Voting is the first step to show their confidence in the new government that is elected by the people in a democratic way. In the opinion of the public it was conducted fairly, and the results were tallied correctly. Technology does not stand still so the Electoral Commission made every effort to ensure that the voting was as accurate as possible, and was surrounded by the maximum trust of voters.
In Montgomery County, Maryland, employees of the election commission, as well as throughout the United States, are trained on setting up and maintenance of electronic polling devices. Instructor lists the measures taken to ensure the accuracy of machine records: “Devices were adjusted in the conditions of the mode of the round-the-clock supervision by security system chambers.
Representatives of both main parties participated in setup of the equipment. After activating the voting machines, we remain at every second – as long as they’re not sealed up again.”
Externally, the technique of tapping the screen at the place where where the name of the elected candidate is entered, followed by the instantaneous transmission of information in a common database, is a big step forward. However, according to analyst Harry Calman, who represents an independent public interest research group, it has a significant flaw:
“When you have a large number of such devices it is very difficult, almost impossible to verify the authenticity of the results. In other words, if someone will challenge the election results, and will require recalculation, only machine data can be presented in response to it. If the machine was wrong, it is impossible to verify, even if we resort to an alternative system.”
Concerns about the reliability of the results submitted by electronic devices, have led a number of observers, including a university professor Benjamin Ginsberg, to appeal for a return to the traditional voting system.
Speaking of the paper fallback Professor Ginsberg meant printed confirmation of the result of voting a particular voter who would remain at the disposal of the electoral commission and could be used in the recalculation. Unfortunately, most of today’s electronic polling machines do not produce paper forms. Therefore, many states and districts will have to spend millions of dollars on the purchase of new equipment – for one only task – to have a paper confirmation.
But ultimately, the focus is on the credibility of the system of voting in a democratic society.