vendredi 28 octobre 2005

Estonia did it!

On October 16, Estonia was the first country to open its local elections to Internet voting on a nationwide level. (The UK also introduced remote e-voting in 2003 but only in a limited number of pilots).
Election officials said only 9,317 people out of 1.06 million registered voters opted to vote online. This comes as a disappointment since more than 50% of the population is said to use the internet (with only 30% of Estonian homes having an internet connexion).
If the turnout of internet voting was so low, some people said, it is because many Estonians were not equipped with the device needed to read the ID smart card required to cast online votes. This ID smart card has been mandatory since 2002 and is also used to have access to different administrative services, and even commercial services such a bank’s – something which sounds a little frightening, no? (I am French, don't forget).

One of the 9,137 happy Estonians
who cast an online vote (Prime Minister Andrus Ansip)

Some experts like Thad Hall, a political scientist at the University of Utah
and co-author of Point, Click & Vote. The Future of Internet Voting (Brookings Institution Press, 2004) said that Estonia has ‘the perfect population size to do something like this". Which I don’t know how to interpret.
Others are more sceptical. On his very nice blog, Jason Kitcat,
an online community consultant, writes that the Estonian system seems to be quite solid from a technical point of view, but it is unclear how it might prevent some kind of votes tampering. Generally, Jason thinks that there are not many reasons "for justifying the introduction of a whole new system which opens the door to wide-scale undetectable fraud while costing the tax payer vast sums of money. The risks simply do not outweigh the benefits.” (Did I quote it right, Jason?).

More info in English:

Plus d’info en français:
Cet article de Libération de l’ami Christophe Alix (qui vous conduira vers d’autres articles du même).

I'll get back to E-voting later in December to present a workshop we are having on internet and politics.

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1 commentaire:

Jason Kitcat a dit…

You quote my sentiments exactly right Thierry!

As I say in this blog post the Estonian system isn't bad but we have no proof that it wasn't compromised. The best bank robbery is the one you don't notice - the same goes for election fraud.

I'm just not sure why, other than gaining publicity, Estonia or any other country would want to push down the road of e-voting when we the risks of e-voting are well known.