Should e-voting become a standard for elections and referendums?

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Electronic voting definition

Generally speaking, e-voting refers to both the electronic means of casting a vote and the electronic means of tabulating votes. There are various forms which e-voting can be implemented and can include a range of technological and Internet services and methods. Technology such as punched cards, optical scan voting systems and specialized voting kiosks (including self-contained direct- recording electronic voting systems, or DRE:Direct Recording Electronic systems) can all be considered electronic voting. In general, two main types of e-Voting can also be identified: E-voting which is physically supervised by representatives of governmental or independent electoral authorities (e.g. electronic voting machines located at polling stations); remote e-voting via the internet (also called i-voting) where the voter votes at home or without going to a polling station. {{mote/text[1]}}

Implementations

Optical Scan Paper Ballot Systems

Voters cast their selection by filling in a paper ballot with an oval (on ES&S and Premier/Diebold ballots), completing an arrow (Sequoia ballots), or by filling in a box (Hart Intercivic ballots). The marked paper ballots are then tabulated on precinct-based optical scan systems in the polling place (Precinct Count). The ballets may also be placed in a ballot box to be scanned at a central location (Central Count). [1]

Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Systems

Voters directly enter their selection on the system through the use of a touch-screen, push-buttons, or similar device. Additionally, an alphabetic keyboard is often provided with the entry device to allow for the possibility of write-in votes. The inputed data is then stored in the electronic storage of the DRE via a memory cartridge, diskette, or smart-card. This data is then added to pool of data of choices made by all other voters. DRE's are considered to be an electronic implementation of the old mechanical lever systems.[2]

Internet voting

Countries that experimented with it

Estonian Rigikoogu Elections (2007): In the pursuit of increasing the representation of commonly marginalized groups, and to positively impact electoral participation overall, Estonia implemented Internet voting that allowed for remote electronic voting in the national parliament election of 2007. In order to be electronically identified, citizens were required to use government issued ID cards. Electronic voting was made available to the public 72 hours prior to the opening of paper ballot polling stations. Even after casting their initial vote, citizens were able to modify their decision until the conclusion of the polling period. Citizens were also able to cast a paper ballot vote. In either cases, their previous vote was annulled. In addition to the national parliament election of 2007, Estonian has also used Internet voting in municipal elections that took place in 2005. [3]

Argument pour.gif Arguments FOR

1. Accelerates the counting of votes

Computers can count ballots faster

Machines and servers can count votes in real-time and give precise results directly when the polling stations close. No volunteers are necessary to count and centralize votes. Participation rate can be given and consulted directly in real-time as well. It provides detailed and informative statistics, and the possibility of quantitative and geographical information.[4]

The centralization of votes for foreign citizen is also easier with the Internet.

{{{auteur1}}}
« Chaque électeur a désormais la possibilité de s'assurer que son vote a bien été transmis au système contenant l'urne officielle, tel qu'il l'a exprimé, et que ses choix n'ont pas été modifiés. »
, « [http:http://ge.ch/vote-electronique/ Vote électronique] », 8 mars 2015.

Eradicate human error from the equation

2. Encourages democratic life

Less abstention

Electronic voting may reduce abstention [5]. It is more accessible because it’s available at home, for young people, people who are disabled or who cannot physically go to polling stations (Hospital, prison…), people who cannot go because of weather conditions. It is also more practical and reduce waiting time.

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.

More consultations possible

Because there are less constraints, consultations can be made more often or on more various topics.

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.
Objections
Reluctance / difficulties for elderly or technophobic

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.
More waiting time because only one polling booth per polling station

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.
Decrease in the participation rate observed in experiments conducted

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.

3. Makes the voting process cheaper to organize

Economy of paper and urns

E-voting allows to reduce costs associated with the use of paper and urns by several ways. It reduces the expenses of printing, mailing and tabulating paper ballots. Indeed, it takes a lot of paper to send ballots to every citizen and to allow to have enough ballots for everyone[6].

For example, during the presidential elections in Argentina in 2007, the government produced 27 million ballots, for a total value of 600 000 dollars. This is a cost that could have been avoided if they used e-voting.

Meelis Kitsing
« Conceptually, it is clear that electronic voting reduces transaction costs and enhances efficiency in the voting process. Citizens find it easier to cast their vote and they face lower costs of voting. »
Meelis Kitsing, « The Estonian experience shows that while online voting is faster and cheaper, it hasn't increased turn-out », 10/2013.

Less or no staff required

When using e-voting, less people (volunteers, security holders, elected municipal officials...) are needed all day in the polling stations. Thus, there is less people that have to be payed for the control of voting and for the counting of the ballots.

Saves time for volunteers

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.

Fewer or no polling stations

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.
Objections
High cost machines for small municipalities

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.

4. Reduces the ecological footprint of the vote

The classical voting system requires the consumption of enormous quantities of paper and have therefore a negative impact on the environment. All the more so that it requests large human efforts as well as production and transportation costs, since it produces carbon dioxide.

For example, the EU referendum required the production and printing of 1400 million of ballots, for a total of 2800 tons of paper. This produced an incalculable environmental impact. Indeed, 35 975 trees of 180 kilograms each were cut in order to produce those ballots.

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.
Objections
Ecological cost of manufacturing and recycling of machinery

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.
Most of the paper used is for the campaign (flyers etc.)

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.

Argument contre.gif Arguments AGAINST

1. Is not a technically reliable system

Flaws in computer systems

This way of voting raises the question of reliable connection with internet regarding technical failures. For instance, it can be due to tough meteorological conditions namely storms, hurricanes, or snow. The inadequate supply of internet network is likely to exclude people living in remote areas from the voting process. All these defaults are not triggered off by hackers. But hackers can also disrupt the election process, creating general, or targeted breakdowns. This can be a new way of protesting. This way of voting raises the question of privacy, indeed, hackers can revealed list of names and votes.


Difficulty checking the identity of voters (especially for internet voting)

The issue of checking the identity of voters is the main problem that comes in people minds when we think about e-voting and the trust we can put in it. Indeed, either the identity-checking process is too easy and can be skirted or it would be too complicated and restrictive and would make e-voting unuseful. A 'too easy' identity-checking process on e-voting would be as we can imagine a system where people would enter on internet their full name, date of birth and passport/ID card on the website but the problem is that these infomations are not confidential at all and anyone could use your informations and vote earlier than you, using your personnal informations and you couldn't vote. A 'too complicated' identity-checking system on e-voting would be restrictive because to make the issues of the 'too easy system', there would be the need of adding procedures, such as a secret personnal password to log in the e-voting website that you could only get personally on the City Hall of you town. Finally, it would be necessary to physically go to a place, use your time, to get this code so it would make e-voting not that efficient.


Opacity of the machine treatment

The machine treatment of the polling data is not clear and there is no transparency about it. If e-voting becomes a standrard for elections and referendum, we'd need massive servors able to treat dozen millions of votes in a short time without crashing. We that much data, hacks and cheating would not be easy to find and exclude of the final result. Plus, we can't recount the votes to check the accuracy of the results since we have no paper ballots.


Reliability of the results

Regarding the results, the system of e-voting can avoid errors due to manual counting of votes, thanks to sophisticated algorithms. Nevertheless letting algorithms and computers supervised the final recount can enable hackers to change the result of the election. The issue of multi-accounts can impact the results by giving the possibility to citizens to vote several times on several devices or with different accounts.

2. Only citizens with technical knowledge are able to audit the system

Objections

Open source software / open source machines

Open source software or machines can be modified by anyone, even people with malicious intents.

Internet access

Some people do not have access to computers and/or the Internet for various reasons. It can be a physical access to a machine they don't posess, or never learned how to use. It can also be linked to the disabilities they may have, for instance elderly people with arthritis.

Internet dangers and education

There are three main risks with civic tech that are all related to the lack of education in the Internet field. Most people are not aware that their computers can be infected by viruses and how. A spying software might broke their anonimity, a controling software might vote in their place, and a destroying virus might keep them from accessing online voting platforms.

There is also the issue of discernment. Fake news and fake websites are often very difficult to distinguish from official, verified ones. Without education, online voting might prove to be an empty gesture.

Trust issues

How can people be sure that they can trust online voting? That it's not just a fun and pointless thing to do if you're bored? The issue here is to make people understand that this system has to be considered as seriously as physical voting. If not, some might click on a very controversial name as a petty act of defiance, or just for a good laugh. And end up electing them.

The simplicity dilemma

To work efficiently and allow a maximum of people to access it, online voting platforms need to have a simplistic interface. However, most administrative and governemental platforms are uncomprehensible even for people with advanced computer knowledge. Thus, there is a risk that the official interfaces might prove to be an unnecessary obstacle to voting, which is something civic tech wants to avoid.

However, too much simplicity may also be a problem, as it can lead more easily to human error.

3. Encourages pressure on voters

Especially for internet voting since no voting booth is provided and anyone can be around we voting.

Possibility of pressures by the entourage to vote not according to opinions

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.

Possibility of having someone preventing from voting

Turns voting into something like a purchasing act, easily made online. Furthermore, going to vote is considered as a social and citizen act.

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.

Risk of voting purchases

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.

4. Desacralizes the very act of voting

Especially with internet voting

Voting is no longer solemn and can be done between two TV shows

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.

May not offer the best conditiosn to reflect on one's democratic choice

This is the summary of this argument, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum

Autor Example
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
Autor Example, « Article Title », Book Title example, Publisher example, Place example, Date example.

5. Was abandoned by most countries that have experienced it

Several experiments with online voting has been abandonned by countries due to criticism concerning security, transparency and confidentiality. For instance, Netherlands and USA stopped some of their experiments due to the reliability of their machines.

They are currently evaluating this process and not generalizing it. [7]

====== Autor Example ======
« Quote text, Ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum. »
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==Notes et références==
  1. Overview of Voting Equipment. Retrieved from https://www.verifiedvoting.org/resources/voting-equipment/
  2. Direct Recording Electronic. Retrieved from www.fec.gov/pages/dre.htm
  3. Bochsler, D. 2010. Can Internet voting increase political participation? Prepared for presentation at the conference ‘Internet and Voting’, Fiesole, 3-4 June 2010. Retrieved from http://www.eui.eu/Projects/EUDO-PublicOpinion/Documents/bochslere-voteeui2010.pdf
  4. See website Site du système de vote électronique genévois.
  5. Voir source Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés, Direction des affaires juridiques, 28/05/2006
  6. Voir {http://www.democraticaudit.com/2013/10/03/the-estonian-experience-shows-that-while-online-voting-is-faster-and-cheaper-it-hasnt-increased-turn-out/ The Estonian experience shows that while online voting is faster and cheaper, it hasn't increased turn-out]
  7. Voir source Note de la CNIL