e-voting: towards a direct democracy?

e-vote yes noTwo key technologies have had to reach their maturity to even think of remote electronic voting as an alternative to cast voting: the Internet and public key cryptography. The first one allows the access of millions of people to servers anywhere in the world, and the second one because it allows to apply the technical security measures to ensure the integrity of the vote and, where necessary, privacy and non-repudiation.

The explosion of smartphones and tablets do nothing but transform the remote electronic voting in a much more attractive alternative. Nowadays we are also witnessing the dawn of  Internet-connected televisions; so, in a world where the percentage of people with Internet access is very significant on the global and increasingly high, what are we waiting to start voting electronically from our homes, hotels or wherever we are? Of course, no t before the “organizers” (e.g. governments) put the resources.

Let’s start defining remote e-Voting as where voting is performed within the voter’s sole influence, and is not physically supervised by representatives of governmental authorities (e.g. voting from one’s personal computer,mobile phone,television via the internet (i-voting) and, for the purpose of this paper, we will focus on elections to the state governments, autonomous regions, municipalities, namely the election of public office, usually by universal suffrage.

Who is interested in the remote electronic voting?

If we assume, as is the case, that remote electronic voting can offer the same guarantees that voting in person (which is secret, non-transferable, which may not have more than one vote per voter, where provided for the election, …) the first actor is the voter: you can vote from wherever your are, no traveling, no queues and still wearing pajama.

In addition, the voter, as a stakeholder in the outcome of the vote, is also interested in the speed of count (although this is not unique to remote electronic voting) and the fact that minimize counting errors. This account, incidentally, is also much cheaper either in euros or in hours of people or both.

These benefits, I may insist, associated with electronic voting in general, not just with the remote electronic voting in particular, should also engage governments (parties) for obvious reasons.

All parties are filled her mouth with “participation”, the importance of participation in elections and the fact is that if we want the parliaments represent the plurality of the people who elect them, participation is very important … and a appropriate electoral law even more.

With voting facilities granted by the remote e-voting is evident that it will increase participation.

Challenges of remote electonic voting

It is biased

Basically for two reasons: because, although an increasing percentage of citizens with Internet access (ranging from 13.5% in Africa and 78.6 in North America with a global average of 32.7% and an increase of 528% between 2000 and 2011, see http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm) it is not UNIVERSAL, and because the profile of people who use it frequently or use it for something as personal as voting is not a representative sample of all strata of society, nor economic neither cultural.

Therefore, the remote electronic voting today can not eliminate voting in person, but to complement it, so that voters who so wish to use this medium and state and voters take advantage of its benefits, at least partially.

Several generations have to pass to think of remote electronic voting as the unique way to vote in general elections.

However, in other elections where the electorate is more closed and controlled and where the universality of access and frequent use of internet is the norm, remote electronic voting stands as a great solution

Is it personal and not transferable?

Despite efforts in securing the remote electronic voting is clear if you vote in person in front of representatives is highly unlikely that I impersonate another person, anything likely to be my wife who impersonates me and of course, the threats to which I can be subjected, at least not contemplate the immediate physical harm to me.

This, by the very nature of “remote” electronic voting at hand, is much more difficult to guarantee. And at this point, I honestly do not know what else can be done and if these deficiencies someday allow government elections in one country can be fully by remote electronic voting.

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About chemalogo

Socio Director de isigma asesoría tecnológica
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