E-voting : Pros And Cons
What Is E-voting ( Electronic Voting ) ?
When you imagine how electronic voting works, you may picture tapping a touchscreen at an electronic voting machine (EVM) or casting your vote online. However, the term “electronic voting” covers much more than this.
Electronic voting involves any form of voting that uses modern technology to either cast or tally votes. Many polling locations in the United States have already made the switch by using scanner machines to count paper ballots.
So, why do we bother walking to the polling booth when we could just vote online? There are many advantages and disadvantages to electronic voting that need consideration before we use it to define a country’s future.
The Pros of Electronic Voting
- The primary advantage of an electronic voting machine is its speed. With traditional paper methods, ballots must be collected and counted from polling stations. This process is time-consuming and delays the final result.
- Another major plus of electronic voting is voter engagement. Many people fail to take advantage of their right to elect their officials, even when Google begs them to vote. Advocates for e-voting argue that by offering an option to vote from home or work, more people would cast their votes.
- Electronic voting also allows for greater accessibility to people with disabilities. Currently, someone unable to mark paper ballots requires an assistant to vote for them. This process compromises the person’s right to cast an anonymous ballot.
- By bringing voting into the digital space, people who are unable to visit or use a polling booth can vote from home. This maintains anonymity and encourages the disabled and elderly to make their voices heard.
- Electronic ballot-counting machines can cut the cost of human counters, while internet voting can also cut out polling location employees. The infrastructure can be re-used every election, so it would be a one-time purchase.
- e-voting is a long-term decrease in expenses. Paper votes require assistants that count and transport votes, which can add up as stations around the country tally up the results. These expenses could put a major strain on an entity like a small, underfunded local government.
The Cons of E-Voting
- The case for electronic voting seems strong. However, there are disadvantages to electronic voting that must be considered. While voting over the internet may seem convenient and easy, swapping to electronic voting may compromise the integrity of the political system.
- The biggest disadvantage of an electronic voting machine is election hacking. As with any electronic device, there is always the risk that someone could illegally alter the results of an election.
- This could be done either through physical tampering or a remote attack over the internet. Allowing people to vote using their own devices could pose major risks as well. A malicious agent could change millions of electronic votes undetected. Changing that many paper ballots would be impossible not to notice.
- Skeptics of the electronic voting solution claim that fraud can occur digitally. When going to a polling location, voters in most countries are required to provide a form of photo ID to confirm that they are the registered voter they claim to be. While fraud for in-person voting is possible, it requires a false photo ID, which is hard to come across.
- With online voting, voter identification would have to occur with some other type of credential. This could include Social Security numbers, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, or some other unique identifier.
- Another issue is how electronic voting systems are designed. These would be created and distributed by a private company, who will likely keep their source code locked away. Elections can have a huge effect on business, so company bias becomes an element when purchasing voting machines or systems.
- When the government hires a company to implement its electronic voting machines, it’s trusting said company to accurately collect and report its votes. There’s no guarantee that this will occur, and many believe that no system should ever be implemented if it can’t guarantee fair and unbiased voting.
- There’s the high upfront cost of installation. It would save in the long run, but the initial expenditure would be much larger than paper voting. Costs include the voting machines, maintenance and installation, testing the infrastructure, and securing the premises.
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