IFES Releases White Paper on Internet Voting
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 our social interaction – it seems only natural to have the same level of trust when casting a vote online. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has compiled and examined a range of case studies that can help to inform electoral actors about potential opportunities – and the very serious risks – that remote, internet voting presents.
Elections have specific characteristics that make them unique. There are many complex, serious issues to consider when it comes to voting through a computer or a phone in an uncontrolled environment – these issues have substantial impact on the perceived legitimacy of those elected, and the integrity of democracy itself. This research proposes that internet voting can be considered according to five parameters: cost, participation, efficiency, trust and security.
This research does not intend to state whether internet voting should be used or avoided: IFES does not globally position itself as being universally for or against internet voting. Rather, by providing a review of case studies and existing literature, this document aims to assist election stakeholders in asking the right questions to identify whether internet voting would further improve electoral integrity and democracy, or whether it would instead undermine public trust in and security of the electoral process. Important lessons can be learned through the experiences of countries who have piloted or implemented internet voting, with varied levels of success.