Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Top in broadband, but no e-voting (yet)

Today in The Netherlands there are elections for regional (provincial) councils. As these councils are the greatest unknown entities in government, less than have of the population who may vote, will vote. And most of the voters will deliver their vote against the background of the new Christian-socialist coalition, which started to govern last week.

The voters will go to the polling stations and vote there using the red pencil or registering their choice by voting machine. Having seen the introduction of voting machines over the last years, this election many voting districts in 35 municipalities have returned to the use of the pencil. A pressure group has demonstrated that the some voting machines are not secure, as they can be scanned from the outside. These machines have been tested, but did not pass the test.

It is not just a Dutch reliability problem. Also in the US there is a controversy about the reliability of voting machines. In fact it is reaching such proportions that the manufacturer Diebold Election Systems wants to sell its activity. Diebold produced some 150.000 machines, which were used in 34 states for the Senate elections in November 2006 last year.

Why should we bother about voting machines? Why not vote via Internet? In the Netherlands we have an experiment going of internet voting. It was used during the general elections last year, but only by Dutch voters abroad and on a voluntary basis. However the general introduction of internet voting has been stalled so far for fear of fraud.

I guess that I would love to live in Estonia for this democratic duty. Estonia has become the first country in the world to allow voters nationwide to vote over the internet for the 4 March 2007 parliamentary election. No less than 27,000 Estonians casted their ballot via the internet during the three-day online voting period which began on Monday 26 February 2007. About 80 percent of Estonian voters already have the necessary electronic ID cards to enable them to vote in this way; they confirm their choice with an e-signature, which requires a separate card reader for the computer. The online voting system was tested in nationwide municipal elections in October 2005, when about 10,000 Estonians voted online.

Oh well, it is time for me to get my shoes on and walk to the polling station to cast my ballot; at least we have a voting machine in Almere, so we are more progressive than Amsterdam as they have to use the red pencil in the polling stations. We might claim the world’s top position with regard to broadband, but forget about e-democracy.

Blog Posting Number: 685

Tags: e-voting, e-democracy, voting machines, ,

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