E-voting by 2020 ?

Houses of Parliament

A House Of Commons report has made the case that e-voting should have a place in UK politics. Could it happen?

The BBC recently highlighted a House Of Commons Report on voter engagement in the UK, suggesting that pilots should be carried out in the next parliament and there should be the option to vote online in 2020.

The idea of voting online is an interesting one. The benefits include engaging young people in politics, as well as others who are less likely to vote but use the internet on a day to day basis. Implementing online voting could increase political engagement and drive up turnout at elections, without making voting compulsory.

Additionally, in the long run, if voting online became the standard way of conducting democracy then a lot of money could be saved by printing ballots. This would also benefit the environment.

Estonia has used internet voting, with 25% of those who voted voting online. However, a report on the issue highlighted the difficulties with internet voting. It said:

Adopting a threat model that considers the advanced threats faced by a national election system—including dishonest insiders and state-sponsored attacks—we find that the I-voting system has serious architectural limitations and procedural gaps that potentially jeopardize the integrity of elections.

It is clear that whilst initially e-voting seems beneficial, there are drawbacks. However, the report says that these problems “carry lessons for Estonia”, which mean that the problems uncovered must be reduced.

Other countries that use forms of e-voting are the US, Belgium and Brazil.

Obviously the main concern with internet voting will be security. With cyber attacks on the rise, elections could be a perfect opportunity for those wishing to sabotage a democratic outcome.

Therefore, if we are to implement e-voting eventually, then security must be a fundamental concern. Pilots are a good idea; before the option gets given to everyone excellent safe-guards must be in place. I’m not an expert in computers, but internet banking is something that has appeared to work well in recent years, with accounts being accessed securely online. This shows that such security for an election is possible.

In theory the idea sounds great. In practice it’s a little more tricky. But with pilots, testing and security coming first I do not see why we should not at least try out e-voting.

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Compulsory voting is not the answer

Votes at 16 - what are the chances of it happening ?

Should we move towards a system of e-voting? What other concerns are there with the putting the idea into practice?