Academic journal article Informatica Economica

E-Voting Solutions for Digital Democracy in Knowledge Society

Academic journal article Informatica Economica

E-Voting Solutions for Digital Democracy in Knowledge Society

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

The field of electronic democracy and especially electronic voting is largely unexplored, its dimensions themselves being in a continuous changing process. There are numerous debates on this field, both in practice and literature, most of them on contradicting terms due to security problems and social and political implications. Thus, considering the expansion electronic voting systems built on the development of information and communication technology (ICT), solving the security aspect is crucial. Voting is a critical process of citizen participation to democracy, facilitating the manifestation of general opinion, but most specialists consider designing such a system complex and delicate.

Security of electoral process must be perceived on the level of national security, because the legitimacy of a democracy depends on the degree of equitable, open and trustworthy elections [1]. The lack of trust in organization of the electoral process and government actions is a hot subject in democratic countries, thus also in Romania. Therefore a computerized system for electronic voting is a great responsibility, its failure having grave consequences on public trust in the political class. [2]

Numerous international studies have been recently organized on international level with the purpose of evaluating the advantages and drawbacks of electronic voting. Worth mentioning is the European project Edemocracy: Technical possibilities of the use of electronic voting and other Internet tools in European elections (IP/A/STOA/FWC/2008096/LOT4/C1/SC2) [3] carried on between January 2010 and September 2011, which highlights in its final report E-public, eparticipation and e-voting in Europe - prospects and challenges the European experience in the field. However, the results and proofs are not conclusive because of the large diversity of existing systems that support a wide range of contexts and requirements. Examination of digital democracy cannot be isolated from other scientific and academic fields. Electronic voting is rather a social and political project then a technical one, a component of the political dimensions of the new media technologies, leading to improvements of social nature through increasing the number of citizens involved in the political decision process.

Traditional voting processes seem to lack security. The concept of hiding a piece of paper inside an envelope to protect its confidentiality is more and more contested. In the current technological context, the voter - considered anonymous - can be easily identified using simple technology the reads finger prints or DNA samples, why wouldn't technology replace such a system? Since numerous countries (like Canada, USA, France, Great Britain, India, Estonia, Holland, Romania etc.) have approached the subject, the basic question is no longer if ICT must or must not be involved in the electoral process, but rather what kind of technology must be used in order to build an electronic voting system.

Electronic participation must be understood as an interaction, mediated by technology, between the sphere of civil society and the sphere of politics. There are solutions and software systems destined to increase this participation, known as electronic methods or e-methods, like blog, webcast, polls, chats, forums, electronic petitions etc. Still, we must understand from the beginning that there is a major difference between e-shopping (for example) and e-voting.

Electronic voting may be analysed from the perspective of a mechanism designed to improve electronic participation, the selection of procedures and technologies being a very important step. The electoral process is different from one nation to another, not only regarding the way to determine the elected candidates (for example proportional or according to majority), but also regarding the procedures and methods used to cast the votes, organizations involved etc.

For example, in Europe voting varies from internet voting (in Estonia) [4] to fully manual process (in Greece and Italy). …

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