1. History of the vote 3 2. "E-voting" term 4 3. Classic vote vs. E-voting 4 4. Types of e-voting systems 5 5. Requirements of an e-voting system 5 6. Advantages and disadvantages of an e-voting system 6 7. Conclusions 6
1. History of the vote In the past, the vote was a privilege reserved for a limited segment of population, mainly affluent people. Eligibility was based on property ownership: to be eligible, an individual had to own property or assets of a specified value or pay a certain amount in taxes or rent. There were also some prohibitions regarding some religions, ethnic and other groups from voting. Though by convention rather that statute, women were excluded from voting. Shortly, only a small percentage of the population had the right to vote. However, each state determined, along its evolution, which citizens have the right to vote in that state. Since then, the situation has improved considerably, even though the development of the right to vote was neither consistent nor ordered. Laws were adopted from time to time to withdraw the right to vote from groups that had previously enjoyed it. More than that, there was often quite a difference between legal provisions and reality. Nevertheless, even if a person had the right to vote, it did not mean, then or now, that the person would exercise his/her privilege of voting. Early in the history, the voting right was restricted due to the fraud attempts which most of the time reached their goals. To minimize the risk of fraud, some measures were taken, like: - maintaining only one polling station in each electoral district; - the oral feature of the vote was introduced; - the dates of elections differed from one election to another; - all voting booths will be closed if in 1 hour interval, not even 1 person exercised his/her right to vote. As a consequence for the various distances that the electors needed to cover in order to reach the voting stations, many people decided not to vote. Oral voting involved serious consequences like: votes being bought, intimidation, blackmail, since the bribers could easily check the option of the person chosen. More than that, because of the strategy of closing the voting station after 1 hour if no one voted, many conflicts and acts of violence took place. In order to win the elections, an unscrupulous candidate could hire a violent gang gathered especially for this type of actions, so only the electors who would vote for him may pass and exercise their right to vote, while the other electors were prevented from voting. All these problems found their solutions with the passing of time and the development of society. This evolution of society knew an exponential development once the computer was discovered and it got in people's everyday life. The climax of this evolution was reached when the Internet was used for the first time. Since then, people's standard of living grew and the way they interact changed substantially. Nowadays, the term "online" is used more and more and it is associated with various domains. We use online services when we plan our holidays, when we shop using virtual stores, when we pay our taxes or even our traffic fines. Many people appreciate how easy to use, available and flexible these services are. Online services vendors were the first ones to use the new technology and their example was soon followed by the governments and public services worldwide. Over time, many online services were implemented. Nevertheless, one can remark the absence of a very important service for the people in almost every country: online voting. This system is, for now, at the beginning, but it will definitely be implemented in many countries. 2. "E-voting" term Electronic voting, also known as "e-voting", implies the use of the new technologies for the voting process to be achieved, including both the devices needed to place a vote, but also the machines that will count the votes. Some types of electronic voting devices are the computers, telephone systems, but also voting devices based on an optical scanner, specially designed for this process. Electronic vote counting machines facilitate a speed-up in obtaining the results. Now, the electors go to an election facility where, after their identities are checked, they express their option inside a "protective" voting booth. Migrating elections to the online platform seems like a clear next step. Looking at this situation through the perspective of a regular citizen, this type of system may easily be implemented. A common conception is that if we can do secure financial transactions over the Internet, then we must be able to use the same technology for securely transferring voting intentions. As it turns out, the concept of online voting introduces so many potential problems, that some people think remote electronic voting will never reach the level of security required for democratic elections. Studies made upon this subject show us that the possibility to implement this kind of system is available, will evolve and finally will be implemented in most part of world states, as some have already done this. 3. Classic vote vs. E-voting Any election process can be divided into four phases: o Preparation. Before the election starts, a list with all the eligible persons to vote will be made. Then, this list will be made available to the registration administrators. In large scale democratic elections, the list of eligible voters is prepared by the government. The requirements for eligibility are typically based on age and nationality. o Registration. Each elector must register and prove his identity before he is allowed to vote. o Voting. Voters register their voting intention on a ballot that will then lodge in a ballot box. o Tallying. All votes are verified, validated and counted. Then, according to the counting results, lists containing the candidate names and number of votes will be made. E-voting brings changes, more or less, for every phase of classic voting process. Voter registration and identity verification is made using distinct data for each voter, like the social number or specified biometric data. Furthermore, e-voting allows users to change their option by placing more votes, but only the last option will count, so the attempt to fraud will be eliminated. The ballots will be replaced with virtual ones, so the voting intention is transmitted over the network, or will be kept, and the voting intention will first be scanned and afterwards transmitted. Votes count will be done automatically, so the risk for a human error will be minimized. 4. Types of e-voting systems E-voting technology can be grouped into three categories, depending on where the vote is cast: o Poll. The ballot is registered in a traditional voting booth, but through the interface of a computer (direct recording machine). The election administrator is in control of both location and voting platform. The advantages compared to traditional elections are accuracy, since the computers can be programmed to only accept valid ballots, and speed, since the tally can be given immediately after the voting phase. The main disadvantage of this type of system consists in the distance needed to be covered by the voters, in order to reach the election facility and cast their vote.
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