Internet Voting – only Pros and no Cons?

Dr. Krzysztof Duda

The development of the Internet had enhanced the access to a variety of services which some twenty years ago were unavailable. Electronic banking is a good example and a point of reference in this context. Voting does not have to be organized in a classical way, i.e. by casting a vote in a polling station and there are many alternative forms of voting one of which is remote voting. Voting by Internet otherwise called I-voting, a term that has been used in the literature already for some time, is one of such services. Remote voting is a very important form of voting, particularly in the context of decreasing voter turnout in elections in many countries and technical possibilities of making remote voting available to voters who, for different reasons, find classical voting difficult.

Efforts aimed at implementing Internet voting have been made in many countries. In some countries, e.g. in Norway, the idea of introducing I-voting was given up, whereas in other countries, e.g. in Switzerland, I-voting tests were conducted in certain regions but now, in 2020, they were discontinued. The only country in the world which has been consistently using I-voting in general elections for a number of years is Estonia. Estonia’s case is worth analyzing since despite a systematic growth of the number of Internet voters, the availability of remote voting does not result in increasing voter turnout. Interestingly enough, an interesting aspect of I-voting is the age structure of voters and the fact that senior citizens constitute the largest percentage of voters casting their votes remotely.

This article presents not only the theoretical background but also practical aspects, such as issues relating to security as well as benefits and threats related to the implementation of remote voting. Other aspects presented in the article include most significant experience of countries which have experience in implementing I-voting, including those of Estonia, and suggestions concerning the selection of the type of software that should be developed and the use of available technology. I-voting benefits can be demonstrated not only on the occasion of general elections but also during referenda, particularly in countries where they are organized relatively often, to regions, local governments and to business organizations during remote voting by shareholders.