Countries with e-voting projects
The following countries have all instigated and performed various e-voting trials and pilot projects. As a result some of these countries successfully use e-voting in their current elections.
This quick-glance table shows which type of e-voting each country has trialled and uses. To view in-depth detail about each country's trials and projects click on the country name.
|Country||Remote e-voting||Polling place e-voting|
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Electoral Commission recommended to the ACT Government, to permit electronic voting for the ACT Legislative Assembly elections. The ACT’s Electoral Act 1992 was amended accordingly in December 2000 and electronic voting was allowed for the first time at an Australian parliamentary election in October 2001 and was used again in the October 2004 election.
In the 2001 election, 16,559 voters (8.3% of all votes counted) cast their votes electronically at polling stations in four places. Electronic votes could be cast 3 weeks before election day for those unable to vote on that day. On election day, 8 polling places were equipped with electronic voting machines.
The system used standard personal computers as voting terminals, with voters using a barcode to authenticate their votes. Voting terminals were linked to a server in each polling location using a secure local area network. No votes were taken or transmitted over a public network such as the Internet.
Electronic counting, which combines the counting of electronic votes and paper ballots, was first used in the ACT at the 2001 election and was again used in the 2004 election. Preferences shown on paper ballots are data-entered by two independent operators, electronically checked for errors, and manually corrected if required. This data is then combined with the results of the electronic voting, and the computer program distributes preferences under the ACT's Hare-Clark electoral system.
Following a review by the Federal Government's JSCEM (Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters), into the conduct of the 2004 Australian Federal election a number of recommendations were put to Government about trialling electronically assisted voting for people who are blind and have low vision for the next Federal Election. These recommendations were agreed by the Federal Government which then passed enabling legislation to allow for the trial.
The AEC has recently spent time building and evaluating an e-voting system which uses both magnified screens and audio output. A purpose designed large telephone style keypad is used to navigate around the candidates and parties and to make a selection. The system then prints a paper containing the persons vote. This is printed with a bar code - not the names of candidates, so that a polling place official or a friend who is assisting will not see the final vote.
In September 2007, people who are blind or have low vision were invited to participate in an electronic voting demonstration, with the aim of them being able to cast an independent and secret vote in the 2007 Federal election.
The Austrian Federal Council of Ministers approved an e-government strategy in May 2003, in which an e-voting project is listed in the Annex. In spring 2004, the Federal Ministry of Interior established a working group on e-voting in order to study and establish a report, on various aspects of e-voting.
A first (legally non-binding) test of remote e-voting was undertaken by the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration in parallel with the Student Union election in May 2003. A prototype developed at the WU Vienna by Prof. Prosser and his research group e-Voting.at was used. The system implements a remote voting procedure which is based on the Austrian electronic National ID Card. Before Election Day the voter applies for an electronic voting token that is saved on the electronic National ID Card. On Election Day the voter supplies only this electronic voting token.
As a follow-up to this first test, the same project team conducted a second (legally non-binding) test of its system in parallel to the Austrian presidential elections of April 2004. This time, 1,786 students out of a possible electorate of 20,000 students of WU Vienna voted electronically in addition to voting with their traditional paper ballot.
In 2006, the research initiative e-voting.at conducted an e-voting test on the topic of voting from abroad.
This test took place in cooperation with "Wiener Zeitung", the Official Journal of the Federal Republic, which was also responsible for hosting the application.
The test addressed Austrians abroad and residents, who were informed via mailing lists of Austrian consulates and Austrians abroad associations. The procedure consisted of applying for an electronic voting card and casting an online vote. Registration occurred from September 25th 2006 til October 11th 2006, with voting for the following three days. On October 14, the election committee terminated the vote and opened the electronic ballot box. Since this was a scientific test, the result of the vote was not binding.
Following an initiative from the Minister of the Interior in 1989, the Federal Parliament decided to start testing e-voting in two electoral cantons for the parliamentary and provincial elections of November 1991. Firms were requested to develop a system “as close as possible to the paper system”. Based on the lessons learnt from this experience, a system of e-voting was organised in the Law on Automated Voting adopted in April 1994, which made possible the extension of e-voting over the Belgian territory. It still constitutes the main legal basis for e-voting in Belgium. It has since then been amended several times.
In 1995, some 20% of the Belgian electorate voted electronically, and since 1999 e-voting has involved some 44% of the Belgian electorate. To date large scale e-voting has been used in Belgium for the June 1999 regional elections, the October 2000 local elections, the May 2003 general elections, the June 2004 regional and European elections, the October 2006 local elections and the June 2007 General elections.
There are two e-voting systems in use in Belgium: "Digivote" and "Jites". The source codes of the voting software were made available on an internet government portal. It is up to the communes which have opted for e-voting to choose which system they will use. The two systems being incompatible, all communes within one single canton must agree on the same system.
Although incompatible, both systems imply similar voting and counting procedures :
- Voting takes place in polling stations; on average polling stations have 1000 voters and each voting machine in a polling station is foreseen for 180 voters
- Voting machines in polling booths and the electronic ballot box are activated by the Polling Station Chair by means of a floppy disc before opening the polling station
- After identification, voters receive a magnetic ballot card
- In polling booths, voters insert their ballot card into a computer and the candidate lists appear on the screen
- Voters choose from the screen and confirm their choice, the computer records the vote on the magnetic card
- The computer returns the ballot card to the voter
- The voter walks out of the booth, shows the Polling Station Chair that their ballot card does not show any mark that could make it identifiable, and inserts the ballot card into an electronic ballot box
- The card falls into the box; the content of the box can be used for an electronic recount
For the 2003 elections, a system referred to as ‘ticketing’ was tested in two electoral cantons. It mostly functioned as the above mentioned e-voting system, to which a paper trail was added. After expressing their choice, the voter could see the vote on a ticket behind a glass. If the vote on the ticket corresponded to the voter’s choice, the voter confirmed it and the ticket was deposited into a box. The law foresaw that in case there was a discrepancy, the voter had to call the Polling Station Chair for help. There was a debate that such a modality was putting the secrecy of the vote at risk. In addition, experts concluded the technology used for the paper trail was not reliable enough.
A system called "Favor", an automated counting by optical reader was also tested in 1999, 2000 and 2003. Voters voted using traditional ballot papers which were then scanned by an optical reader. In its report on the 2003 elections, the College of Experts concluded that automated counting was reliable.
Over the past years, e-voting has become a matter of further discussion in Belgium, and some members of Parliament have expressed dissatisfaction over the current system. During these debates, controversial issues have arisen, which seem to be the main reason why the use of e-voting in Belgium has not been extended beyond the current 44% of the electorate since 1999.
Since 2003, a number of proposals for legal amendments reveal the diversity of positions across the political spectrum. None of these have been adopted, but during a debate on e-voting organised in the Federal Chamber of Representatives in December 2003, the Chairman of the Chamber recognised that there was growing opposition to e-voting in Belgium, within the Chamber.
A Resolution was adopted by the Regional Parliament of Brussels in July 2006, asking for "adding transparency to the e-voting system”.
In 1987 Brazil's Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) began building a centralized database of registered voters to be able to identify multiple registrations by a single voter and other irregularities. This database was assembled three or four months before an election consolidating voter registration data provided by all states. Then in 1993 /1994 a network connecting all regional electoral Tribunals was built which allowed all the regional electoral registers to communicate among themselves and to regularly update a centralized national register eliminating the need for consolidation of register data prior to an election. At the end of 1994, the specifications for an electronic voting system were prepared and in the 1996 elections voters were able to cast their vote with a Direct Recording Electronic voting system (DRE), called "Urna Eletrônica".
In 1996, 1/3 of the electorate, approximately 35 million voters, voted in the new DRE's without a paper ballot verified by the voter. In 1998, the electronic ballot boxes were used by 2/3 of the voters and in 2000, by 100%.
By the 2000 and 2002 elections more than 400,000 electronic voting machines were used nationwide in Brazil and the results were tallied electronically within minutes after the polls closed. Data was transferred on secure diskettes or via satellite telephone to central tallying stations. These in turn transmitted data electronically over secure lines to tabulating machines in the country's capital, where the results were consolidated and announced within hours.
It is a common misconception that there is no electronic voting in Canada. While the federal elections still use paper ballots, voting technology has been used since at least the 1990s at the municipal level in some cities, and there are increasing efforts in a few areas to introduce it at a provincial level.
There are no Canadian electronic voting standards. Each province can choose its own voting machines and standards. Each municipality can choose its own voting machines and standards, although in some provinces municipalities are required to follow provincial standards and regulations.
Edmonton, offered touch-screen voting machines for advance voting in 2004.
The VOTEX system will be used in several municipalities throughout Alberta in October 2007.
It was reported in the Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper on May 13, 2004 that the Chief Electoral Officer was reviewing the possibility of using electronic voting machines on a wide basis.
Saint John used optical scanning machines in the 2004 municipal election.
In November 2003, 12 municipalities from the Prescott Russell and Stormont Dundas & Glengarry Counties held the first full municipal and school board electronic elections using either the Internet or the phone but no paper ballots. About 100,000 voters were registered to cast their ballots online or through the phone. Each of the 100,000 registered voters had received a Voter Identification Number and a password, allowing them to vote. The e-voting system helped increase turnout to 55% in some places, against normal municipal election rates of 25 - 30%.
In September, 2004 the Chief Election Officer released a report "Access, Integrity and Participation: Towards Responsive Electoral Processes for Ontario" which advocated the exploration of alternative (non-paper) voting channels, as well as other automated processes.
Resultantly, Kingston offered touch-screen voting machines for advance voting in 2006.
Markham used Internet voting in 2003 and again in 2006 and experienced a 48% growth in online voting.
The 2006 St. Catharines municipal election used optical scan machines. Since 1988, the City of St. Catharines has been using optical scan voting technology for tabulating votes during the Municipal Elections.
The 2006 Ottawa municipal election used optical scan machines.
Peterborough used Internet voting in 2006 in addition to the more traditional paper methods.
Windsor used touch-screen balloting in a 2002 by-election and in the 2003 Ontario Municipal Election, but only at their advance polls.
Markham and Prescott have also experimented with Internet voting.
Quebec held municipal elections in 2005. Numerous problems were reported with the voting machines used and there were calls for some re-votes. On October 24, 2006 the Chief Electoral Officer of Quebec released the "Report on the Evaluation of New Methods of Voting". It highlighted three root causes of problems with electronic voting machines in the 2005 municipal elections:
- an imprecise legislative and administrative framework
- absence of technical specifications, norms and standards
- poor management of voting systems (especially lack of security measures)
The Chief Electoral Officer recommended that the current moratorium on the use of these systems be maintained, and it is up to the provincial legislature to decide whether or not to use electronic voting in future.
A change to Danish election laws in August 2005 meant that county, EU-parliamentary and national elections could use information technology to facilitate the election process. Before 2005 it was not specifically allowed to transfer data by means other than physical communication, i.e. moving the ballots by hand and accounting for them by showing the lists that documented that people had voted. Today one Danish municipality is in the early stages of planning to introduce e-voting.
Discussions on remote e-voting started in Estonia in 2001 and one year later, in 2002, the legal provisions for it were put in place in the Local Government Councils Elections Act. During the summer 2003 the National Electoral Committee commenced the actual e-voting project. In March 2004 a public procurement procedure was carried out and the Estonian company Cybernetica Ltd. was mandated with the development of the e-voting system.
During the last week of January 2005, an e-voting pilot was conducted in Tallinn wherein 703 voters participated and the system was considered a success.
In September 2005 amendments were made to the provision of e-voting in the 2002 Act and voters were offered the possibility of voting electronically in the local government council elections in October 2005.
The enabling factor for e-voting in Estonia is the ID-card (by February 2006 over 900,000 ID-cards had been delivered). The e-voting system authenticates a person using the ID-card’s authentication certificate. After learning the voter’s identity, the system checks whether the person is on the electoral roll. If this comes back positive then the system displays the appropriate voting choices. After the person has cast their vote it will be encrypted with the system’s public key and sealed with the person’s digital signature using, again, the ID-card.
The 2007 the Parliament elections were conducted using the ID-card system. Voting was available from February 26 to 28 and a total of 30,275 citizens used Internet voting.
In 2001 Voisins-le-Bretonneux used Internet voting from a kiosk within the polling station for the Municipal and cantonal elections.
Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy trialled network voting in polling stations for the Presidential election in April and May 2002. In June 2002 they experimented with the use of smart cards containing voter's fingerprints for the legislative elections.
In November 2002 Issy-les-Moulineaux opted to vote for local council members using Internet voting.
In May 2003, French citizens residing in the USA were given the possibility to validly elect their representatives to the Assembly of the French Citizens Abroad (AFE) (previously the Conseil Supérieur des Français d’étranger (CSFE)) by remote e-voting. 8% of the 61,056 registered voters in the US representing 60% of the actual voters cast their vote over the Internet.
In 2003, the Internet Rights Forum, a private body supported by the French government, published recommendations on the future of e-voting in France. They recommended that remote e-voting should not be introduced, except for French citizens abroad who should be able to elect the AFE delegates by voting over the Internet. However, they recommended that every voter should be able to use polling place e-voting.
The use of polling place e-voting for legally binding political elections in France was made possible by a decree passed by the Government on 18 March 2004 . This decree authorises 33 municipalities to deploy electronic voting machines (the authorisation was subsequently extended to 20 further communes). Following successful trials in 6 cities during the regional elections held in March 2004, 18 communes conducted e-voting tests during the European elections on 13 June 2004. Some of these experiments where legally binding, while others were not.
Despite these numerous trials and projects in 82 localities, the first round of the French presidential elections in 2007, showed many queues, equipment malfunctions and some towns (Amiens, St Malo, Le Perreux, Ifs) opting out. Some political parties demanded the withdrawal of electronic voting machines for the second round of the presidential election. The site Ordinateurs-de-vote.org has launched a petition for the preservation of paper voting which, by 25 April 2007, had already gathered more than 80,000 signatures, however some officials within the country are wanting to introduce Internet voting for everyone by 2009.
Germany started e-voting tests and pilot projects in 1999. A new regulation on voting machines was introduced that refered to microprocessor controlled devices. Nedap computers were tested and appointed. The tests were held at non-political elections, at universities (Osnabrück, Bermerhaven), at local advisory level, as well as at public and private employees councils. The City of Cologne used the Nedap computers in the European elections.
In 2002 1,000,000 voters used the Nedap computers in the election of the Bundestag.
Efforts in 2003 centred around the connection of all polling stations through an electronic network and the building of an electronic voter register.
In the 2005 Bundestag elections and the October 2006 municipality elections in Cottbus electronic voting machines were used, although due to the sytems being hacked into, additional security measures were applied.
There have been several lawsuits in court against the use of electronic voting machines in Germany. One of these reached the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in February 2007.
In the 2008 state elections of Hamburg an optical scan voting system based on digital paper will be used.
Electronic voting in India was first introduced in 1982 and was used on an experimental basis in the North Parur assembly constituency in the State of Kerala. However the Supreme Court of India dismissed this election as being against the law.
Amendments were made to the Representation of Peoples Act to legalise elections using electronic voting machines, and in 2003 all state elections and by-elections were held using EVMs. Encouraged by this the Commission decided to use only EVMs for the Lok Sabha, and four state assembly elections in 2004. Nearly 700,000 polling stations spread over 35 states and Union territories were equipped with one million EVMs.
The Government decision in February 2000 to move to electronic voting and counting in Ireland aimed at securing a broad range of identified benefits compared to the current manual arrangements, including more democratic outcomes through the minimisation of invalid votes and the more accurate counting of votes; provision of a higher level of service to the public; greater flexibility and speed in the voting and counting processes; and increased use of modern information and communication technologies.
Following an international open tendering process in 2000, the Nedap-Powervote system was chosen as being the most suitable for Irish electoral conditions.
Extensive testing of the system was undertaken by internationally accredited independent test authorities and the system was successfully piloted in 3 constituencies at the May 2002 General Election, and in a further 4 constituencies at the Nice 2 referendum in October 2002.
There was mixed feedback from the voters that used the system, with over 93% of those polled after voting stating that they found the process very easy and 87% preferring it to paper voting. Following these experiences and slight modifications to the voting machine user interface to make it more user-friendly and secure, the Government decided to introduce the system to all constituencies for the European and local elections in June 2004.
In view of issues raised in public debate in the run up to the planned nationwide use of the system at elections and referendum in June 2004, the Government established the Independent Commission on Electronic Voting (CEV) in March 2004 to examine the secrecy and accuracy of the chosen system. The conclusion of the Commission's Interim and First Reports were based on the desirability of allowing more time for further testing and quality assurance.
The CEV produced their Second and Final Report on the Nedap-Powervote electronic voting system in July 2006. The CEV concludes that overall it can recommend the voting and counting equipment for use at elections in Ireland, subject to further work that it has recommended in the Report. However, the CEV also concludes that it is unable to recommend the election management software for such use.
In response to the publication of the second report of the CEV, the Government established a Cabinet Committee on electronic voting to inter alia, consider the CEV report and other related assessment work in detail and to report to Government on the full implications of the CEV’s recommendations. The CEV’s report is still under consideration.
Since the late nineties most districts in the Netherlands have been voting using electronic machines in polling places.
The Dutch Government also considered and tested remote e-voting, and in June 2004 the first experiment with internet- and telephone voting for Dutch voters living abroad was held. Almost 5,000 voters cast their vote through the internet for the European Parliament. In the parliamentary elections of 2006, 21,000 people were thought to have used the RIES Internet voting system to cast their vote.
After the 2006 experiment a thorough evaluation be will completed. The results will be used in a political debate about the implications and desirability of Internet Voting.
However, in October 2006 a group of Dutch IT specialists demonstrated the voting machines used by the majority of the Netherlands could be secretly hacked, made to record inaccurate voting preferences, and could even be secretly reprogrammed to run a chess program. This, and other issues of secrecy and security made the Dutch Government ban the use of certain computer voting machines in the 2006 national elections.
The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development accepted pilot projects in three municipalities at local elections in 2003. Voting in the pilots was carried out on voting machines in the polling stations using touch screens.
An evaluation of the tests showed that the system was well accepted by the electorate and local election officers. However, the evaluation report, which followed the pilots, also stated that questions regarding e-voting and security needed further clarification. In response, the Ministry appointed a working committee to give recommendations on the future of electronic elections in Norway.
The result of this work is documented in the 2006 report "Electronic voting - challenges and opportunities". The working committee recommends that pilot projects should continue to be carried out in selected municipalities with particular groups of voters. A schedule for these pilots has not yet been decided upon.
The Electronic Vote project in Portugal, which began in 2004, has the main objective of allowing citizens to cast their vote at any polling station in national territory by 2009.
The project has performed a non-binding trial in the European Elections of 2004. The trial was conducted in 9 municipalities across the country, chosen according to criteria such as geographical location, size, and traditional political preferences. About 100,000 voters were offered the possibility of testing an e-voting system - but only after casting their legal vote by using the usual paper ballot method.
Simultaneously, the authorities also conducted Portugal’s first trial of Internet voting for Portuguese citizens resident abroad, who vote by correspondence. All of the 150,000 citizens who were registered to vote outside Portugal were sent an access code by postal mail, allowing them to cast a non-binding vote through a secure Internet platform made available on a dedicated website.
A further test was undertaken in the 2005 General Elections, where voters’ mobility platforms and paper trails were tested.
The Electronic Democracy Project is developing initiatives to enable, in the near future, citizen’s participation in the discussion of public policy issues, in order to contribute for a modern and participative citizenship.
Since 1995, the Generalitat de Catalunya (the government of the autonomous region of Catalonia located in the north-east of Spain;) had run several pilot projects in parallel to public elections using electronic voting machines inside polling stations.
In November 2003, a non-binding remote e-voting pilot was held in parallel with the Catalan parliament elections. Over 23,000 Catalans resident in Argentina, Belgium, the United States, Mexico and Chile were invited to participate using any computer connected to the Internet. The Generalitat de Catalunya sponsored this pilot to examine the use of secure electronic voting for the future. 730 voters participated in the pilot.
Furthermore, on 14th March 2004 several non-legally binding electronic voting trials were conducted in Spanish municipalities. In the municipality of Jun, near Granada, a total of 597 citizens tested electronic voting systems, with 400 people voting through computers connected to the Internet and 197 people voting by SMS sent via their mobile phones. Internet voting pilots were also carried out in three polling stations in Zamora and Lugo, where 274 citizens tested Internet voting machines at a number of polling stations.
On 10th August 2004, the Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and the First Deputy Prime Minister, announced that in September the government will consider modifications to the law on general elections and the law on referendums with a view to introducing the possibility of using remote electronic voting in the referendum on the European Union Constitution in February 2005.
From 1st to 18th February 2005 about two million voters in fifty-two Spanish municipalities had the opportunity to participate in the largest Internet voting pilot ever held in Spain. The pilot, organised before the legally binding referendum carried out with traditional paper ballots on 20th February 2005, had no legal value. According to press reports, only 10,543 of the two million voters concerned – about 0.54% – effectively tried out the remote Internet voting system. These were able to cast their vote online from any computer connected to the Internet, using a smart card and PIN code.
Throughout 2005 and 2006 the Demotek system, an innovative electronic balloting system that maintains the current form of voting but speeds up the telling of ballot slips and the reporting of election results was demonstrated. In July 2007 in Donostia-San Sebastian, 1,930 citizens successfully participated in a trial vote using this system.
The Swiss government commissioned the Federal Chancellery in August 2000 with the task of examining the feasibility of e-voting. A first report on the options, risks and feasibility of e-voting was delivered in January 2002.
The Swiss Federal Chancellery (Bundeskanzlei) ran three pilot projects in collaboration with the cantons of Geneva, Neuchatel and Zurich, each using a different e-voting system.
In the canton of Geneva voters in the community of Anières were the first in Switzerland to be able to vote electronically in the communal voting, which took place on 19th January 2003. Further tests took place in Cologny on 30th November 2003, in Carouge on 18th April 2004 and in Meyrin on 13th June 2004. The Geneva web-based e-voting system has been used in a total of 8 votes so far. Swiss registered voters received their polling cards and voting materials by mail before each election or referendum. The card was then presented when voting at polling stations, or sent with the postal ballot by mail. Citizens who wanted to cast their vote electronically could access the e-voting system through a normal web browser, entering their polling card number to gain access to the secure electronic polling booth and submit the vote.
In Neuchâtel, a cooperation between the canton (the state) and its 62 communes has led to the creation of a one-stop e-counter - the "guichet sécurisé unique". Using an approach similar to that of Internet banking, the canton's citizens received a user ID, password and constantly-generated transaction codes to access the site, which offered a variety of government services. E-voting was one of these features. Before each vote, citizens received an additional, specific code that allowed them to cast their electronic ballot on that specific issue.
Zurich has created a canton-wide shared database of voters that will be kept up to date by the communes. The system was first tested in the election of the students' parliament at the University of Zurich in December 2004. The casting of votes by SMS (short message texting via cell phones) is currently being considered in this canton.
The Swiss legislature has adopted a legal framework that provides conditions under which e-voting can be offered to citizens during the trial periods. By the end of this experimental phase - sometime in 2007 – government and parliament will have to decide whether or not e-voting should be introduced nationwide, however it is hoped that it may be generalised to all of Switzerland by 2012 as an additional channel to ballot and postal voting.
In 1997, a government working party set up to examine and review electoral procedures, recommended that pilot schemes of innovative electoral procedures should be used to evaluate their effectiveness. The recommendations of the working party were given effect by the Representation of the People Act 2000, which allowed local authorities to run electoral pilot schemes at local elections in England and Wales.
In May 2000, 32 local councils ran a total of 38 experimental voting arrangements, including electronic voting and counting.
In May 2002, 30 local authorities piloted a total of 36 innovative voting procedures, amongst others remote e-voting using telephones, the Internet and mobile phone text messaging.
In early 2003, the Government undertook a procurement exercise to identify the commercial organisations who would provide the technology to run electronic voting experiments in 2003 and beyond. An announcement on the successful supplier organisations was made on 30 January 2003.
In May 2003, there were 59 pilot schemes, embracing 32 all-postal pilots, 17 e-voting pilots, 3 e-counting pilots and 7 other electoral process innovation pilots. The Electoral Commission published a strategic evaluation report on the May 2003 pilot schemes which made recommendations about the future of all-postal voting and the shape of future electronic pilots and other innovations, as well as best practice in the management of pilot schemes.
It was expected that the UK would extend the e-voting pilots at the 2004 European Parliamentary election to a few million electors. In its recommendation for the electoral pilots at the 2004 elections, the Electoral Commission did not recommend that an e-enabled element be included in any pilot schemes, as no region was ready for such an innovation.
At the May 2006 local elections, 15 pilot schemes took place in 21 local authority areas across England. Some of these pilot schemes covered procedures now contained in the Electoral Administration Act 2006, passed in July 2006, including postal vote signature checking and providing signatures in polling stations. Some schemes also trialled other innovations not yet rolled out for general use, such as early voting and electronic counting.
On 4 August 2006 the Electoral Commission submitted reports evaluating each of the 15 schemes to the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, together with six briefing papers summarising the findings by innovation type.
On 29 January 2007, the Government announced details of 12 local authorities carrying out electoral pilot schemes at English local government elections on 3 May. In light of the evaluation reports for these latest electoral pilots, on 2 August 2007 the Electoral Commission called for an end to the trials of telephone and internet voting until the Government set out a strategy for modernising the electoral system and making it more secure.
It is worth noting that in Scotland, scanners will be used to electronically count paper ballots in the Scottish Parliament general election and Scottish council elections in 2007.
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) 2002 provides funds for state and local government units to replace outdated punch card systems with more advanced machines. In order to receive the funds, states and local government units must develop a plan to upgrade their voting systems. The plans must include one voting machine which is accessible to disabled voters in each polling place. In addition, the funds may be used to make voting places themselves accessible to persons with disabilities. Federal funds were made available to states earlier this year.
Polling place e-voting was reported to have affected just over 50 million registered voters in the 2004 election of the president. Another 55 million voters were reported to have used optical scan systems, while 32 million were still using punch cards.
However, widespread reports of voting terminal failures, and growing concern about the security of e-voting machines, gave rise to a debate over how to ensure the integrity of the presidential elections. An important part of this discussion focused on whether to equip direct recording electronic (DRE) voting terminals with a voter-verifiable paper audit trail. Seven states have directives or laws requiring voter-verifiable paper audit trails, and 14 others introduced similar legislation. Federal legislators considered reforms that would mandate a voter-verifiable paper audit trail for DREs.
A broad discussion also arose about the feasibility of remote e-voting after the now defunct Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment (SERVE) system was planned for deployment in the 2004 primary and general elections. It was expected that it would allow the eligible voters first to register to vote in their home districts, and then to vote, entirely electronically via the Internet, from anywhere in the world. Besides being restricted to overseas voters and military personnel, SERVE was also limited to people who vote in one of 50 counties in the seven states (Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington) that were participating. The program was expected to handle up to 100,000 votes over the course of the year, including both the primaries and the general election. The eventual goal of SERVE was to support the entire population of eligible overseas citizens plus military and dependents. The population was estimated to be about 6 million, so the 2004 SERVE deployment was judged as a prototype for a very large possible future system.
However members of SPRG (the Security Peer Review Group), a panel of experts in computerized election security that was assembled by FVAP (Federal Voting Assistance Program) to help evaluate SERVE recommended shutting down the development of SERVE immediately because they considered the Internet and the PC as insufficiently secure to cast a vote (see www.servesecurityreport.org.)
Over the years, several states have moved to establish uniform voting systems. Oklahoma led the way by establishing a uniform optical scan voting system in the early 1990s. Delaware’s three counties have used electronic systems since 1996. Hawaii and Rhode Island established uniform optical scan systems in 1998. Georgia established a uniform electronic voting system in 2002. Nevada established a uniform electronic voting system in 2004 and Maryland, in 2006.
In May 2007 The Department of Defense advocated using Internet voting for all overseas Americans in the 2008 presidetial election and the 2010 general election. This has been met with some disdain for the same reasons that SERVE was abandoned.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, introduced the Ballot Integrity Act in May 2007 to help ensure the accuracy of vote counts in federal elections and institute important new reforms in the administration of elections. The Ballot Integrity Act of 2007 provides new safeguards to prevent errors and tampering at the polls, requires states to use voting systems with voter-verified paper records subject to public manual audits in the 2010 federal elections, improves the physical security procedures of voting systems, provides improved poll worker training, and takes steps to help increase access to voter registration and ballots by decreasing wrongful purges of voting rolls.
In July 2007 Senator Feinstein announced a hearing in September to examine the findings of a new report exposing weaknesses in the security of electronic voting machines.
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen commissioned the University of California to test the security and reliability of electronic voting systems currently in use by the state. According to their report, issued July 27 2007, University of California computer scientists were successful in their attack of certain voting systems.
The scientists who tested the voting equipment were able to evade the physical security on the machines, as well as compromise the software security measures in place to thwart such an attack.
In the run-up to the November 2008 general elections, voter accessibility again, became a hot issue in the community. While each US state has been complying with HAVA in its own way, for the coming election, registered New York City voters will have the option to cast a ballot using a Ballot Marking Device (BMD).
The Board of Elections in the City of New York is installing at least one BMD at each polling site. The BMD works by using either an ATM-style touch screen, Braille-enhanced keypad, sip & puff device or rocker paddle to mark a ballot. Each one is designed with specific disabilities in mind, including visual and physical impairments.
Ballot marking devices do nothing more than assist voters in completing their optical scan paper ballots. They essentially replace a human assistant, who compromises ballot secrecy, with an automated assistant, which does not compromise that secrecy. Unlike DRE voting machines, the ballot marking devices do not store any electronic ballots nor count any votes. Accordingly, they avoid most of the authentication, security, and auditability issues associated with DRE voting machines.
- American Foundation for the Blind (n.d.) Help America vote act (HAVA). [accessed 14/08/07].
- Australian Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918
- Election Commission of India. [accessed 26/07/07].
- Electoral Commission (n.d.) May 2002 pilot schemes. [accessed 27/07/07].
- Estonian National Electoral Committee (2005) E-voting system: overview. [accessed 25/07/07].
- Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting. [accessed 25/07/07].
- Niemoller, Dr. K. (n.d.) Secrecy, accuracy and testing of the chosen electronic voting system - appendix 2k: experience with voting machines in the Netherlands and Germany. Dublin: The Policy Institute.
- PA Consulting Group (2007) Connect2Voting: an evaluation of the accessibility of local election pilots. [accessed 14/08/07].
- Prosser, A. & Steininger, R. (2006) An electronic voting test among Austrians abroad. Vienna: Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration.
The information contained in this section was taken from the following sources:
- ACE Electoral Knowledge Network (2007) Countries with e-voting projects. [accessed 21/06/07].
- ACT Electoral Commission (2006) Electronic voting and counting. [accessed 21/06/07].
- Ackerman, R. (2007) Electronic voting in Canada. [accessed 25/07/07].
- AEC (2007) Electronic voting trials for electors who are blind or have low vision. [accessed 02/10/07].
- American Foundation for the Blind (n.d.) Voters with disabilities deserve the opportunity to vote privately. [accessed 14/08/07].
- e-Voting.at (2007) E-voting test in cooperation with Wiener Zeitung. [accessed 24/07/07].
- Elecciones en Euskadi (2007) Demotek - experiencias realizadas. [accessed 27/07/07].
- Election Data Services (2004) New study shows 50 million voters will use electronic voting systems. [accessed 27/07/07].
- Electoral Commission (n.d.) May 2003 pilot schemes. [accessed 27/07/07].
- Electoral Commission (n.d.) May 2006 pilot schemes. [accessed 27/07/07].
- Electoral Commission (n.d.) May 2007 pilot schemes. [accessed 21/06/07].
- Electoral Commission (2007) Electoral Commission calls for end to 'piecemeal' election pilots. [accessed 14/08/07].
- Estonian National Electoral Committee (n.d.) E-voting pilot in Tallinn. [accessed 25/07/07].
- Estonian National Electoral Committee (2006) Internet voting at the Elections of Local Government Councils in October 2005: report. [accessed 25/07/07].
- Feinstein, Senator D. (2007) Chairman Feinstein announces plans for rules committee hearing to examine security of e-voting. [accessed 03/08/07].
- IDABC (2005) ES: Spain's internet voting pilot sparks controversy. [accessed 27/07/07].
- Internet Rights Forum (2003) What is the future of electronic voting in France? [accessed 25/07/07].
- Jefferson, Dr. D., Rubin, Dr. A. D., Simons, Dr. B & Wagner, Dr. D. (2004) A security analysis of the secure electronic registration and voting experiment (SERVE). [accessed 27/07/07].
- Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties (n.d.) Internet elections in the Netherlands. [accessed 13/08/07].
- New Yorkers for Verified Voting (2007) Ballot marking devices. [accessed 23/10/08].
- Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development (2006) Electronic voting - challenges and opportunities. Oslo: Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.
- Obrist, A. (2007) The Swiss e-voting experience. [accessed 27/07/07].
- PourEVA (2006) OSCE / ODIHR: expert visit on new voting technologies. [accessed 24/07/07].
- Voto Electronico. [accessed 26/07/07].
- Wiesner, U. (2005) e-Voting: silent decline of public control. [accessed 26/07/07].
- Wikipedia (2007) Electronic voting. [accessed 26/07/07].
- Wikipedia (2007) Electronic voting in Ireland. [accessed 26/07/07].
The author would like to thank A. McGuinness, K. Millar, M. Magennis, S. O'Reilly, T. Regis, M. Riise, D. H. Silver and M. Simpson for their additional comments and ideas.
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