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How do you feel about electronic voting?

Read the comments we have received so far


Why your opinion is important

In many countries e-voting technologies are being developed, and an intensive theoretical and normative debate is taking place about the proís and conís of e-voting systems. We would like to investigate the opinions of the users and the developers of this type of technologies.

Introducing new technology is always a complex undertaking, and has many different aspects. These aspects are partly technical, partly social, political, organisational, legal, and partly behavioural. This is also the case for electronic voting systems. Historically, social aspects and democratic values have only been partially considered in the systems design process, the main focus has been on technical and economic factors. Being a 'Social Informatics' website we are naturally especially interested in the social consequences of e-voting systems. But we want to hear your opinion about all sorts of e-voting issues.

Are you in favour of electronic voting? Do you feel that electronic voting influences the articulation of political preferences and opinions by citizens? Do you think that e-voting will influence voting turnout, digital divide or privacy? Is e-voting secure and safe? Will it enhance public interest in the democratic process?

The inclusion of a variety of views and interests may broaden the perspectives on possible trajectories of socio-technical change. The point of departure should not be that we are moving towards the e-society, based on e-business, e-commerce, and e-government, but that we have to evaluate critically in what direction we are moving, and what social choices can be made. In other words, listening to different opinions may help to avoid many of the pitfalls, obstacles, and misunderstandings normally found when introducing new technologies. We believe that frequent feedback by voters, politicians, researchers and designers can identify problems before they become disasters.


Send us your views:

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Your Comments

I am making a research regarding e-voting and if it is workable. E-voting is something new, thus there are many people who believe that is not secure. Nothing is totally secure, even traditional voting methods. Real life experiments indicate that e-voting is secure for small scale elections. The question that arises is if UK is ready to use e-voting. Ekalak Bangkok argues that 89% would like to use e-voting in the future. I read a paper about e-voting written by Margarita Tzavella (MSc grad).Tzavella states that "the major concern of UK citizens is if e-voting is a truly public medium, since young people with advanced computer knowledge have an advantage over others. Hence, a participation gap is creating between the more and less advantaged sectors of society". Apart from these social concerns, arguments about security and privacy were also expressed. I do believe that UK needs more time before implementation since citizens don't feel comfortable enough.
Kenneth Willkinson, MSc student. London, United Kingdom

There is always potential for irregularities in any voting system. E-voting just opens up the chance for those irregularities.
Bruce Clark, Ipswich, United Kingdom

I agree with Bruce that any Voting system can never be perfect (as it was proven by arrow's theorem) - and also that failures can happen everywhere - it is just the question to which extent. Having said this, it is the task for information technology to limit the possible fraud down to an as small as possible number of votes at one time, optimally only down to one vote with the required consent of the voter (one thing than can never be inhibited)...
Robert, Internet is everywhere

E-voting to be re-re-modeled firstly in small groups, global online villages world wide, and as soon as possible growing these models by learning and re-modeling...like Michelangelo, when he predesigned the " PIETA" he built for himself firstly about 56 gypsum models about the size of 30-60 cm and when he found the best model, he transponed it into the far more expensive marble from CARRERA. This was when we had the evolution step to re-re-re-model "PIETAS" inside VATICAN....no we do it with e-democracy, hope also soon inside VATICAN which is rather an absolutitian Monarchy still....but learning is the goal and learning to make things better, decentral and online operational, and re.-re-remodeled to become not only maximisable but also optimisable....
Gottfried Ressl, Rosario, Argentina. Organisation: www.geocities.com/itec2200

I certainly do believe that e-voting has an impact on "the rules of the game", so not only turnout or political preferences, but also our perceptions of what it means for the vote to be "safe" or "secure". It has less to do with the actual technology itself, however, and more with the specific uses it allows, and how it is introduced and perceived.

The research on e-voting provides an interesting example of how technology proves to be neither good, nor bad nor neutral in a social context. I agree with Eleftheria that the key to understanding these issues lies in the specific uses the technologies allow, and how they are introduced and perceived in a local and temporal context.
Gaston, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I believe e-voting can provide an attractive supplement to existing voting systems. Inevitably it is an option favouring the 'e-literate'. A major difficulty lies in persuading the electorate of the legitimacy and controls of e-voting i.e. that it cannot be 'fixed' by hackers or other external influences such as double counting, false identity etc. Another problem is the reliability of the technology itself - if the U.S. Presidential election result can be decided on a 'hanging chad' how would a digital recount be managed?
Simon Ford, London, England

Well, I have different views depending on what you mean by e voting:
  - e-verification and identification of voters (biometrics etc)
  - e-counting of hand-completed voting slips
  - electronic completion of votes in a polling station
  - electronic completion of 'postal' (remote) votes
My key concern is that in any e-election you'd have to have:
  - an informed electorate (maybe via e-democracy)
  - trust in the system (and who you might be buying in a managed software system solution from)
  - a way of countering the destructive nature of switching from a system that works
  - some mechanism to guard against obsoletion versus proven ability of the systems you are putting in place.
Also if an election is only once every 5 years and you have to be able to trust the technology, with development and lead times doesn't that mean your system could be 10 yrs old before you use it the first time and 20 years old by its third use? - I got my first digital watch in 1980!!! Hopefully some food for thought.
Graham Jordan, Durham, United Kingdom

E-voting is a good way to participate in election for those people who are not at the place where their name appear in voter's list.By e-Voting they can cast their variable vote. So I think it is a very good way.
Nikesh Kumar Singh, Bokaro-Jharkhand, India. Organisation: software development

Online-voting represents a future, in which the persons ballot independent from the place. The voters become more flexible and mobile, because they are not constrained by voting in the own polling station. This possibly tends to result in a decrease of the relevance of the constituencies. Particularly in countries like Great Britain an Germany, in which the persons at the parliamentary elections first vote a candidate of the constituency, online-voting could lead to discussion about the signification of dividing the country in constituencies. Thus it could be, that online-voting in the future would influence the whole political system of a country.
Silvia Ellermann, Osnabruck, Germany. Organisation: Research Group Online Voting

If electronic elections were held in a country like Saddam's IRAQ would it be possible for International Organizations (as UN, OCSE...) to check and certificate such electoral results? I'm sure nobody could honestly certify such results. So why should we presume that the above results could be certified if the elections were held in our countries? Because we are much more honest than any dictator around the world?

Please let us be serious! In our countries somebody has certified ENRON's financial statements until the day of the final crash! Why should such people (and companies) become suddenly honest when the matter of their job is giving the power to rule a country (and most of the whole world, in the case of USA) ?

I want to say that if we have a look at the problem of e-vote in its entirety we soon notice that it is not a technical problem, but a social one. The risks are so huge and the forces in the battle so powerful that we, the citizens, should pretend to vote in the only safe way which is paper ballot! Of course with paper ballot some few votes may go lost, but not any foreign country, not any terroristic group, not any economical or political power will ever be able to change the results of our elections!

I think this is the real point and compared to it cryptography, VVPAT, codes, mathematical voting systems, and things related are all misleading technicalities! I run a website abut the risky relationship between democracy and e-vote: http://www.electronic-vote.org and I'll be glad to see you there! Thank you very much from Italy,

Emanuele Lombardi, Italy. Organisation: Electronic Vote and Democracy

I have make a research about the opinion in the e-voting practical use. My research tool is questionnaire. The result is 89 percent would like to have e-voting in the future used. And more if anyone needs a detail in this research please contact me via e-mail.
Ekalak, Bangkok, Thailand. Organisation: Kasetsart University


Results of the Electronic Voting Page Online Poll
This poll was completed by 231 visitors of the old Electronic Voting Page in 2002. The results can also be found here.

When asked whether the respondents would cast a vote online 85%  answered YES and 15% NO.

To the question 'Do you feel that online voting would help to reverse the low turnout in local and national elections?' 71 percent answered YES, 16 % answered NO, while 13% of the respondents answered they didn't know.

Finally, we asked the visitors of our site whether they thought online voting would encourage more young people to vote. 80% answered that they thought young people would indeed vote more when having the possibility to do it online, while 11% did not have an answer. Only 9 percent didn't think online voting would increase voter turnout among the young.