Norway: online voting stakeholder trust
Voter confidence in the electoral process in Norway is extremely high. Norwegian voters in general, and especially those in the municipalities where internet-voting has been tried, are very positive toward online voting. According to an initial set of findings based on social research conducted for the KMD:
• Support for internet voting among the Norwegian electorate in the pilot municipalities is high, even when counter-arguments related to privacy, the secret ballot and technological security are introduced. There is considerable confidence in internet voting among the citizens.
• More than 9 out of 10 citizens of the trial municipalities think that internet voting should be introduced in Norway. Support for internet voting is somewhat lower in the country as a whole, where 7 out of 10 agree with this statement.
Considering the issue of trust, it is important to recognize the exceptionally high levels of trust that exist in Norwegian government institutions. The OECD’s Better Life Index finds higher than average (for OECD countries) levels of voter turnout and trust in political institutions in Norway. These are all indicators of a strong democracy that e-participation can re-enforce even further. Of note as well, is the IFES report published in 2012 regarding Norway´s initial online voting pilots.
As such, one can argue that Norway enjoys high levels of trust in government and public administration. The significant usage of Internet voting both in the 2011 and 2013 online voting pilots is indicative of considerable trust in the system. No complaints were received about the Internet voting system or about the counting and results process for Internet votes. The number of complaints received can be considered as an indication of the trust that voters have in an electoral system as a whole.
It is quite apparent that the Norwegians have a high degree of trust in the administration of elections, and in public administration in general. Additionally the KMD demonstrated a high degree of trust towards the online voting technology supplier (in this case Scytl), with regard to the successful implementation of the pilots and an extreme amount of sincerity towards all stakeholders by making the source code public. All aspects considered, Norway had every reason to experiment with electoral innovation.