Global Politics

Electronic voting lessons from abroad

Think back to the disputed Bush-Gore election in 2000 where problems with various paper ballots led to seemingly endless recounts in Florida. This Brazilian journalist remembers how everyone in Brazil was appalled because 2000 was the year when Brazil started having 100% digital elections. The country uses a home-grown system, using a somewhat telephone-looking machine where a voter types in the number associated with a particular candidate. The records are stored and encrypted and sent electronically to the capitol and processes the number within hours of the election. The journalist says the system been a success. He says less than 0.5% of the votes were contested in the last election. Australia has also been tinkering with e-voting. Japan has allowed municipalities to vote electronically. But Estonia conducted the first nation-wide internet based election which was widely considered to be successful, with no glitches and no attempts at hacking. There also wasn't a paper record of the votes, a feature which is often requested in the US when the idea is proposed. This Estonian official says even a paper trail can be forged. But for e-voting to work in a particular country, it's clear a majority of voters have to trust the system will work and that trust simply doesn't exist in the US says this online strategist and analyst.