Willem de Ruiter

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Welcome on my personal wiki-page.

My driving forces

Object of the future: Online voting

Election outcomes never represent the opinion of all citizens in a country. In most countries, 70% of the people vote when there is an election, in the US this is between 50% and 60%. Could you call that a real democracy? Currently the development of online voting (also called internet voting) is changing the traditional way of voting. Online voting is easier, faster and it improves our democracy by providing more ways for citizens to express what they want.

If the online voting systems are well managed and designed in the nearby future, it is almost certain that there will be a better turnout at elections because the existence of more voting channels will be used by some citizens.

But still there are some problems that need to be solved. An online voting system that is carried out without controlled polling stations may endanger the freedom of vote of many citizens since each voter need to use a password - or something similar - that can be stolen or bought. The risk of the so-called family vote or the existence of coercions among employers and employees should be taken into account [2].

One benefit of the traditional electoral system is that it does not require any specific skill. Therefore it is open to any citizen, even those completely illiterate. These new tools offer a different landscape and, taking into account the current sociological data about ICT uses, even in the most developed countries, it seems not convenient to propose a total replacement of traditional polls or surveys by these online features [2].

Another problem is the transparancy of online voting. When you vote traditionally, you see what happens with your vote (no matter how you do it, electronically or with an envelope). Concerning online voting, once you have voted you cannot see what happens with your vote and/or know whether it is kept secretly. This can decrease the confidence of citizens in the online voting system.

So, we see that security is an obvious danger that should be taken into account. The traditional system has also security challenges, but they are more serious with online mechanisms.

Currently, there are experiments with online voting in quite some countries. The Pentagon had plans to allow military personnel to vote online in the November 2004 presidential elections but they cancelled it. It was done in view of the inability to ensure the legitimacy of votes that would be cast using this program [1].

After all, it seems to be only a matter of time before we see the application of online voting. When online voting will be totally safe, it will become popular.