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Fears surrounding security and anonymity, coupled with poor turnout among young voters, caused the Norwegian government last week to scrap development of an internet voting system. According to a BBC report, the Scandinavian nation has long wanted to modernize the way votes are cast. But after poor results from two e-voting experiments, the government has decided the project is no longer worth the money spent on it. One major reason: the effort was expected to boost voter turnout, especially among the young. That those results weren’t produced contributed to the decision.
What’s the Big Idea?
For free and open elections to work, voters need to have a guarantee that their anonymity won’t be compromised. Such a guarantee came into question when software experts expressed doubts about the Norwegian system’s encryption scheme. Hacking has always been a concern when it comes to e-voting — whether via electronic voting devices located at polling places or via internet-based platforms. The possibility of fraud inevitably enters the equation.
As the BBC report notes, part of the appeal of a designated polling place is that it exists as a controlled environment where voters are safe to vote without the pressures of outside influence or coercion. This is a theoretical democratic bedrock that current proposed forms of internet voting can’t guarantee. Until they do, it’s difficult to foresee the advancement of a web-based democracy.
Read more at The BBC
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