Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Power to the e-people
About e-government in general, with a section
Cast your vote online
Surely the ultimate demonstration of e-government in action would be elections held electronically and online. Already voters in Belgium and Switzerland can vote from the comfort of their own homes, so how is the UK gearing up for e-voting?
To date, e-voting has been used only in council elections in the UK. In 2003, 17 local authorities provided e-voting facilities to 1.9 million voters, via internet kiosks, home PCs, text messaging and digital TV.
But the results were not encouraging, with only a marginal increase in voter numbers. Furthermore, technology think-tank the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) is far from convinced of the advisability of using these voting systems nationwide.
One of the leading concerns with e-voting is the lack of a paper trail, which allows you to go back and check the outcome of an election after the event. The FIPR warned that it would be impossible to prove afterwards that an election had been carried out correctly if a situation such as the need for a recount occurred.
To further underline how far we are from voting online in the next general election, the Electoral Commission advised the government against trialling e-voting in some areas for the June elections to the European Parliament, citing concerns over security and software development.
I think just because you can put an "e" in front of a word, doesn't mean it's a good idea. Canada is a leader in providing e-government services, but e-voting shouldn't be one of them.