E-voting - a challenge to democracy?
In progress from 01-02-2010 to 01-04-2011
Project manager: Ida-Elisabeth Andersen
In March 2010, the Danish Board of Technology established a group of experts which was given the task of investigating threats and opportunities presented by different e-voting technologies. The main objective of establishing the group was to end up with a number of recommendations regarding future use of electronic voting systems in Denmark. The group of experts has newly-completed its work and the overall opinion reads as follows:
Denmark must develop experience of its own in e-voting.
The recommendations are published along with a background report under the title E-voting – a choice for the future? The publications are only available in Danish.
The Minister for the Interior responds favourably to the recommendations
In addition to the publications, the recommendations were presented by the group of experts at a public meeting on the 21st of March 2011 at The Danish Board of Technology. Following the presentation, two panels of politicians commented on the recommendations. In the first panel, the Minister for the Interior and the Lord Mayor of the City of Copenhagen participated.
In Denmark, the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for legislation and overall administration and monitoring of elections and referendums. In April 2010, a motion concerning the possibility of introducing electronic elections was moved by a member of the Folketing (the Danish Parliament). In his opening speech at the reading of the motion, the Minister for the Interior recommended the Folketing to await the results of The Danish Board of Technology’s project E-voting – a challenge to democracy?
At the public meeting on the 21st of March 2011, the recommendations were well received. The Minister for the Interior stated that he is ready for trials with electronic voting in Denmark. Within the last few years, several municipalities have shown interest in introducing e-voting technologies, but at government level, however, the position has been that e-voting is too risky a solution. The Lord Mayor of the City of Copenhagen also responded favourably towards the recommendations and the Minister for the Interior’s statement.
The group of experts has published 9 recommendations. In the following, a condensed report is given.
The group of experts recommends a pilot project with an electronic voting system at the municipal election in 2013. At least three municipalities must participate in the pilot. The pilot project shall be monitored, developed and evaluated by one key authority.
A main recommendation comprises the electronic voting model, which the group of experts advises the decision-makers to try out. The group recommends that Denmark primarily initiates electronic voting experiments with mobile polling stations. For a limited period of time before election day, mobile polling stations are located in public places the voters visit every day, for instance supermarkets, working places, and nursing homes. In this way, the polling stations are moved closer to all potential voters. This may have a positive effect on the voter turnout. On election day, the mobile polling stations are placed in the traditional polling stations.
Even though the voting takes place outside the traditional polling station before election day, the voting does not occur in an uncontrolled environment. In every mobile polling station, there are election officials present, and they will ensure that the voting procedure meets the prescribed formalities. The group of experts does not recommend home voting via the Internet. In the group’s opinion, for instance, home voting cannot meet the security demands.
The mobile polling station is invented on the basis of already existing computer hardware connected to the Internet and not dedicated voting machines, given that the group of experts estimates dedicated voting hardware to be economically unfeasible.
In writing the recommendations, the group of experts has drawn inspiration from various institutions and players in the area of interest. In addition to a number of meetings in the expert group, The Danish Board of Technology has facilitated two workshops in which experts and stakeholders were invited to discuss and assess different aspects concerning e-voting technologies. In addition to this, the Recommendation Rec(2004)11 “Legal, operational and technical standards for e-voting” adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the council of Europe has been an important guideline.