Why can’t we vote online?

Why can’t we vote online? Like many others we just received our voting cards for local elections. 2013 and we have to go and queue in a chilly church hall to put a cross against our candidate. It struck me as Dickensian so I started to try and find out why we couldn’t vote online online. As usual, I’m not the first – there’s a lot out there about it. Mainly negative as far as I can see. A lot of countries use electronic voting machines at polling stations (Brazil, Belgium, India, Switzerland etc) but fewer have actually introduced internet voting (Estonia, Switzerland testing). A number of countries have tried it and come out of it (Ireland, and the US ran a trial in Arizona). Many countries use it for overseas voters where it has an obvious advantage.

The whole area is beset with debate about abuse. We can’t vote online because of the risk that someone intercepts the your vote or logs in as you. While these are risks in online banking and e-commerce in general, if someone nicks your cash, the theft can soon be discovered. Voting’s different if someone changes your vote or just loses it who will know? And, completely unlike banking and e-commerce, your vote is supposed to be anonymous —while at the same time validated that it was cast accurately and in a manner that the loser will accept.

We will vote online one day. This will increase dramatically the number of people that vote, they will be better informed in the process (imagine having to confirm that you have read the key manifesto points before you vote, or take a short test) and politicians will be pressurised to increase democracy with more votes and this will make them explain things more clearly. Finding out what people want. Sounds familiar. More work for marketeers!