|Is the Internet the Right Place for Our Ballots?|
Guillermo Ramón Adames y Suari - PVNN
July 28, 2010
Banderas News (and other media) has kindly published several of my articles in electronic voting. Like any other procedure, it evolves in time and this evolution either in part or fully, is the goal of the present article. I push electronic voting in its various forms and formats yet there are other elements that form part of this evolution like the corresponding legislation, the modes of application and the everyday work related to this.
|There are various key questions that must be asked and certainly answered, so that the internet voting becomes a reality.|
We will be going through the problems that touch the issue of "voting from abroad" for the military in the US. My articles are purely technical, and what I intend to grasp is the way in which the vote is handled both with new technologies and with the intrinsic problematic of it and the solutions. The issue in this article is "country free", "military free", "politically free", or if you want it presented otherwise, pure technology and its problems. It so happens that the origins of this article are the military.
At the overseas Vote foundation Summit in Munich, March 2010, there were a number of issues and the most relevant are that at least 25 American States, have introduced more than 80 pieces of legislation designed to improve the MOVE Act. The Move Act is simply the Military and Overseas Voting Empowerment Act. What all this illustrates is the legislation to oblige voters to cast their ballots electronically.
There are various key questions that must be asked and certainly answered, so that the internet voting becomes a reality. On the other hand we have countries like Lithuania and Brazil in which internet voting is THE only way of voting. What is extremely enriching of this debate is the confrontation of systems "who have made it" and "systems that are trying to make it". What is sad in this process is the lack of communication between the ones who "have succeeded" and the ones "trying to get there". I open a parenthesis with my naďve UN approach: We had all systems available on the table and the name of the game was to build bridges between solutions. Political approaches or economic ones are main issues for certain countries while for us International Civil Servants, we were aiming at "solutions with whatever (literally whatever) was available": As usual we were short of funds like everybody else but we had to give solutions. I hope the US comes down from its pedestal and use (simply use) somebody else's experience and technology: Political stress (in particular with Venezuela) avoids looking deeper at the accomplishments of that Latin American country in electronic voting. Likewise profiting of the voting experience of another left wing government with electronic voting: Brazil.
The key questions that the MOVE Act will be considering, can be summarized as:
• Why do some people see Internet Voting as a sensible improvement to democratic practices while others see it as opening the floodgates to an irresponsible use of technology?
• What exactly is the role of online technology in our electoral process?
• Do we really have to draw a line?
• Is this a positive step towards modernizing our electoral process?
• If these kinds of programs work well as pilots, how long will it be before all voters want to cast their ballots via Internet?
The Verified Voting Organization cites that on Thursday March 18, 11 technology and electoral integrity experts and some 60 additional experts: administrators and thought leaders in both the electoral and the overseas communities including Secretaries of State and the heads of the Federal Voting Assistance Program and the US election assistance Commission and others would be present in the debate. Teams of scientists and activists from the US and Europe also attended the meeting.
By no means I would question the expertise of all involved: professors, researchers and international staff. But there is no one expert cited coming from a country or organization that have actually succeeded in implementing Internet voting. And there are various: Why were they not included?
The idea behind this summary is Mexico oriented: In the future, there will be a number of debates concerning electronic/internet voting and we can learn from these debates. There are a number of legal issues that have to be taken into account and these forums summarize some questions. Learning from all involved and incorporating "success stories" would pave the way to a successful "electronic/internet/telephone voting" procedure for Mexico.
Guillermo Ramón Adames y Suari is a former electoral officer of the United Nations Organization. Contact him at gui.voting(at)gmail.com