Saturday, 5 July 2008

Electronic vote counting lacks transparency

The London-based Open Rights Group (ORG) has published a report on the electronic vote counting ("e-counting") during the May London elections. In the conclusions, ORG remarks:
ORG also commends the spirit in which London Elects has sought to enhance transparency around the May 2008 London e-count. However, as has been noted in various sections of this report, the level of transparency is not yet adequate. There is insufficient evidence available to allow independent observers to reliably state whether the results declared are an accurate representation of the intentions of London‘s voters.

I think that for the future of voting we will have to very carefully balance the need to have an efficient procedure (i.e. through electronic means) with the need for a general transparency of the process. Especially for countries that lack the general will to organise open, free, and fair elections the general acceptance of intransparent electronic voting systems could be a good opportunity to make sure that elections will always have the "right" result.

The report reminds again that elections need to be as observable as possible during all stages of the process in order to guarantee that the democratic standards can be monitored by (neutral) external actors.