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E-voting

This term, an abbreviated form of electronic voting, seems to have begun appearing in newspapers about 1999. It has become more common recently as various governments have begun to use computers (plus text messaging and the Internet) for entering and counting votes, largely as ways to encourage people to participate in elections. The recent Irish referendum on ratifying the Nice proposals to extend the European Union was partly conducted by computer; the British government is piloting the idea in local council elections in some places next year, following trials of Internet and text-message voting last May. The term e-voting is limited to systems that use methods to record and count votes that are entirely electronic, so it excludes the voting machines commonly used in the USA that were responsible for the great hanging chad scandal of the 2000 presidential election. However, technology experts are sceptical about the whole idea, arguing that the opportunities for fraud or error are too great, since it is so hard to be certain that people voting online or via mobile phones are who they claim to be, it’s too easy for corrupt governments to falsify the results when no checkable audit trail exists, and they fear that voters can be too easily intimidated when voting at home.

Many observers believe the fundamental problem with e-voting is that the government appears to be using it to provide a technical fix to what is essentially a political and social problem.

Computer Weekly, Oct. 2002

Georgia is implementing statewide e-voting at a time when voter confidence is still recovering from the 2000 presidential election disaster. Those wounds were reopened this month when Florida counties debuting their electronic voting machines struggled through another election fiasco, thanks largely to poorly trained poll workers.

Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Sep. 2002

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 9 Nov. 2002

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Last modified: 9 November 2002.