The Future of Technology in Elections:
A Round Table Discussion Tuesday at the Atlantic Council

On Tuesday morning the 29th of March, we are honored to have our Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer, Gregory Miller participating in an invitation round table discussing this new report published this week by the Atlantic Council, authored by Conny McCormack.

You can watch the web cast of this event here starting at 9:00AM EDT in Washington, D.C.  And here is the related resource web site with the materials online.  Tuesday evening we plan to have a follow-up posting here with a recap of the event and a response document of our own to the Report currently being prepared. 

For our west coast fans, this may be a wee bit early for you (9:00AM EDT; 6AM Pacific), but the good news is this web cast should be archived on YouTube so you should be able to watch it "tape delayed" as it were, if you prefer.

Below is a synopsis of the Report (from the Atlantic Council) and we encourage you to check out the web castPlease note: our reprinting of the executive summary below does not necessarily imply an endorsement on our part of the contents of that Report.  Please watch for our response document Tuesday evening.

TECH IN ELECTIONS:
HOW CAN IT SUPPORT STRONGER DEMOCRACIES?

People can call a taxi and book a hotel from their phones—but in much of the world, even the most developed countries, they vote on paper ballots.  With an increasingly tech-literate society, how can governments take advantage of technological innovation to make their elections more reflective of twenty-first century realities?  What must be done to introduce technology into the voting process, and how can it be done in a way that delivers greater transparency, trust, and efficiency?

The Atlantic Council believes that technology’s forward march is inevitable and its use in elections will accelerate.  Here are the principle benefits and obstacles to achieving that.

BENEFITS

  1. Accuracy: from fraud prevention to avoiding human error, technology can help ensure that ballots reflect the will of the people.
  2. Speed: by tallying and reporting election results faster, electorates have greater faith that the vote was not tampered with. Increasing public trust is critical.
  3. Expanding access: from audio assistance for the hearing impaired, to ballots in multiple language options, electronic voting can offer a plethora of options thereby expanding the inclusion of a diverse electorate.

OBSTACLES

  1. Security: public perception around the security of electronic voting is shaky due to high-profile data breach cases and misinformation about the vulnerability of electronic voting machinery. But is that inevitable?
  2. Cost: there is little information on the cost of procuring and maintaining electronic voting machines, leaving governments ill-equipped to decide if it is worth the investment. What is the real cost-benefit balance of electronic voting?

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. What does electronic voting cost? Time to find out. The debate about electronic technology in elections is adrift without a comprehensive financial analysis. Independent institutions such as IFES and International IDEA should conduct comprehensive research to determine the real cost of electronic voting.
  2. Getting on the same page: time to establish international guidelines. For governments to make informed decisions, international guidelines for electronic voting machinery must be established. Organizations such as the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute have created these frameworks for election observation, and would be well-positioned to do so for electronic voting systems.
  3. Autonomous, apolitical, and well-funded election bodies make for transparent, credible elections. Success follows independent electoral bodies and governments must prioritize autonomous, empowered institutions to run strong, legitimate elections.

 

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