Implementation of e-voting: Experience of other states, risks and benefits

Electronic voting is a very good option for ensuring democratic participation in elections. A low voter turnout owing to the long distance up to polling places can weaken the democratic institutions, while e-voting can ensure broader participation, especially among citizens who are abroad. But this method of exercising the right to vote implies risks related to cybersecurity and the experience of developed states showed that considerable efforts and testing are needed to guarantee a safe vote, said participants invited to an event staged by the International Republican Institute (IRI), IPN reports.

IRI resident program director for Moldova Krzysztof Lisek said that things develop and the people increasingly use electronic equipment. The vote by one click caused multiple debates in different states. Estonia and France have already implemented electronic voting. But there are countries that rejected this concept. For example, the Dutch Parliament several years ago discussed this idea, but the political parties didn’t agree for the reason that this voting method is not safe. “There are elections that are held electronically. As we know, the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Moldova suggests amending the Electoral Code so as to permit electronic voting in the future. That’s why we invited you to this discussion,” stated Krzysztof Lisek.

The Ambassador of France to the Republic of Moldova Graham Paul said the e-voting system in France was designed to address the needs of 1.4 million French voters who are abroad. Electronic voting is a very good option for ensuring democratic participation in elections. But creating a safe system for users is a big challenge. After the first successful attempt in 2012, France didn’t allow electronic voting in the parliamentary elections of 2017 as there were serious concerns about cybersecurity. Even so, it was decided to work out a newer and more robust system that was put into practice after two years of trials.

Caronline Monvoisin, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, stated that e-voting is an additional option that does not annul traditional voting. The voting process can take place during five days, but voting itself lasts for several minutes after the user authenticates. To ensure confidentiality of the vote, the user name is sent through email, while the passport through the SMS to the mobile phone. The ensuring of functioning of mobile phone networks is a risk as there were cases when the messages didn’t arrive. For this reason, it is important to maintain other voting channels.

ICT architect Thomas Hautesserres, adviser within the electronic voting project in France, said e-voting implies risks, including the forcing or corrupting of electors to vote for a particular candidate. An information system is needed for implementing e-voting, but it is hard to secure the ICT systems. When there are political stakes in elections, the risk associated with the vulnerability of a system can be high. Also, it is harder to explain e-voting to electors than voting on paper, which is easy. The voters should trust the authorities and should also have digital education.

The Central Election Commission drafted a bill to amend the Electoral Code and introduce electronic voting and approved the concept of the e-Voting system. According to the concept, as traditional voting on paper, e-voting consists of two steps – identification of the voter based on IDs compatible with the electronic identification system and voting itself. The system is intended for all the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, regardless of their whereabouts, and is designed to ensure access to the electoral process for citizens who face difficulties in travelling to polling stations.

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