The Parameters and Context of Online Voting: Technology
On the basic principle that technology in all walks of life is constantly evolving, so is the technology dedicated to ensuring the evolution of our centuries old election processes.
The past few years have seen a significant evolution of online and electronic voting technology. Technology that may or may not (depending on its level of sophistication) cater to the full requirements for online voting systems set under the legal conditions which must be upheld. Maintaining anonymous, private, verifiable and secure data as well as ensuring the secure operation of systems are all conditions that have to be met. Different existing technologies address some, none or all of these requirements, the most sophisticated extending to cover the areas of secure data storage and secure data transfer over the internet.
There are different voting scenarios that can be addressed and for which the level of technology and communication sophistication and security need to be adapted. For example a polling station can be equipped without the use of communication technologies (ie: the internet), using polling station based DREs (information technology alone), and thus protecting the e-electoral process against internet related risks. Another scenario would be remote voting via the internet, combining voting web sites to personal computers or DREs (combination of both technologies), thus requiring innovative security and technology to address administrative and security concerns .
As far back as the year 2000, organizations such as CalTech/Mit through their Voting Technology Project (VTP) and The Center for American Politics and Citizenship from the University of Maryland via their research on Voting Technology and Ballot Design have studied all aspects of the election process.
The aim is to provide the optimum combination of both communication and information technology best practices: communication technologies multiply the information technology possibilities and vice versa.