The future of mankind is digital, but how will democracy keep pace with an ever-increasing digital citizenship?
At Smartmatic we believe that the future of democracy is digital, as well. If you are part of an election management body (EMB) or just trying to understand the world of e-voting, this article can help you.
What is electronic voting – e-Voting?
Electronic voting, or e-Voting, is the use of modern technologies in the process of marking or casting a vote during elections. This definition encompasses political elections, referendums and plebiscites. A distinction must be made to differentiate e-Voting from electronic counting (e-Counting), which is the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) during the counting, not marking a ballot or casting a vote in an election. E-Counting usually involves the use of optical mark recognition (OMR) scanning machines.
These are the main e-Voting systems types:
- Direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, which are used to electronically mark and cast votes.
- Ballot marking devices (BMD), also known as electronic ballot markers (EBM), which electronically mark and print a paper ballot.
- Online voting or internet voting systems, which allow voters to mark and cast their votes online.
Advantages of Electronic Voting
Below a list of strengths usually associated with e-Voting. The classification is based on our experience and on the exhaustive list of advantages provided by IDEA International.
Advantages for election management bodies
- Faster counting and delivering of election results.
- Increased trust in elections as human error is avoided.
- Increased voter turnout, especially when internet voting is involved.
- Cost reduction when applying e-Voting on multiple electoral events.
- Reduced ballot waste.
Improved convenience for voters
- Easier vote marking and casting as the voting experience helps to avoid errors, in particular when over-voting, under-voting or making incorrect selections.
- Ballots available in multiple languages.
- Vote remotely from home or other locations using internet voting.
- People with disabilities are able to vote thanks to features like sip-and-puff voting, paddle voting, high-contrast viewing screens and audio voting.
- Online voting allows people who are unable to reach the polling places to vote.
- e-Voting reduces the chances of accidental or intentional variations in vote counts by reducing poll worker direct interaction with ballots or counts.
- e-Voting and online voting reduce voter errors and the chances of voter fraud, increasing electoral integrity.
Types of e-Voting systems
Below are descriptions for the different types of e-Voting systems:
Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines
A DRE is a voting machine that has the following features:
- An input device to mark the vote, for example a touchscreen or some other device designed for specific disabilities.
- A storage device to directly register individual votes after the user casts it. Consolidated votes can be stored as well.
- Optionally, a printer to generate a Voter Verifiable Audit Trail (VVPAT) which produces the required paper records for audits, as well as to allow the voter to verify her selections.
- Optionally, some communication device to transmit votes to the central counting location.
Ballot Marking Devices (BMD), also known as Electronic Ballot Markers (EBM)
A BMD or EBM is a voting machine that has these features:
- An input device to mark votes.
- No storage devices as votes are not stored individually, nor consolidated.
- A printer to mark the voter selections in the ballot that is later either manually counted or electronically counted by means of an e-Counting device, for example an optical scanner.
Online Voting or internet voting systems
Online voting or internet voting has the following features:
- Votes are marked and casted from either a public computer, computers in voting kiosks or even from any device connected to the Internet.
- Each vote is transmitted to a central location by means of a communications network which can be Internet, SMS or any other digital service.
The discussion above introduced what is electronic voting, its advantages and the main types of e-voting systems. This illustrates the impact of technology on democracy.
Smartmatic is the largest election technology company in the world, we aim to increase integrity in the democratic process, enabling better governments. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any doubt concerning our election solutions.