Electoral technology and internet voting in Ukraine
As technology advances and more transactions become electronic, many have questioned when voting will truly enter the digital age. After all, many of us trust websites and mobile apps with our financial information and with our social interaction, and it seems only natural to have the same level of trust when casting a vote online.
However, as evidenced by the current trend in Europe to move away from electronic voting (including internet voting) due to trust and security concerns, it is evident that: 1) elections have specific characteristics that require a tailored approach in the digital age; and, 2) for many, the technology is not at a level (yet) where the benefits outweigh the vulnerabilities to their democracies.
Thus, the introduction of new technology such as internet voting in the digital age must be carefully considered through a separate lens. A lens that evaluates potential tradeoffs and impact on: participation, cost, transparency, efficiency, security, integrity, credibility, legitimacy, and trust.
As Ukraine considers the continued modernization of its electoral processes, it is strongly recommended that: any and all efforts to digitalize the country’s electoral process (including internet voting) are carefully considered through a feasibility study that incorporates international research and national context. This is in line with European good practice and should precede potential piloting and subsequent rollout.
A comprehensive feasibility study as a first step is particularly important for Ukraine in light of the security and trust challenges that the country’s democracy and elections have faced over its recent history.
In pursuit of European standards and good practice, IFES is committed to contributing to the continued evolution of the use of technology in electoral processes through an evidence-based approach that safeguards principles of trust, security and transparency.