Application of Election Technology: Considerations for Election Administrators, Practitioners and Policy Makers

Publication Date: 
10 May 2009

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Introduction

When election administration practitioners and policy makers examine the practical interests of improving election processes and administrative procedures, invariably the issue of technological enhancements must be considered. The introduction of various technological systems has been widely adopted by most election bodies throughout the world. Indeed election processes have benefited greatly from the widespread adoption of technological platforms to enhance election administration in areas such as voter registry management, electoral district demarcation, results and tabulation transmission and reporting and electronic voting systems.

Much of the adaptation of technologies into electoral processes and management mirrors a general trend in the workplace. Where technology may simplify a process or make it more user friendly it will be adopted and integrated into business, industry and public institutions alike. The end result for election administration will generally be an improved and more easily managed process for election commissions and their management bodies as well as a system, if properly designed, that is more accessible and user friendly to the voters’ needs. The integration of technology into election administration, therefore, is a natural evolutionary adaptation of technology at hand that seeks to increase accuracy, accessibility, security and verifiability. Ultimately the objective for the election administration remains the same, however; to manage a process that produces credible and legitimate results that voters and political contestants alike will view as reflecting the will of the voters.

Technological innovations will continue to present opportunities to enhance the capacity of election administration. How far an election body wishes to reach with these technological innovations or solutions depends largely on the will of the voters and a consensus among policy makers to support the introduction of new technological platforms. This is clearly contextually dependent and will vary from democratic state to 2 state. Some societies will have greater risk tolerance for the introduction of election related technologies such as Internet voting and others will have less tolerance for these new possibilities. What is imperative, however, from an election practitioner perspective is that elections technology must be harnessed in a positive and transparent manner that safeguards public confidence and assurance that an individual’s vote will be cast in secrecy and counted uniquely.

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