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Top Elections NGO Releases Publication on the Use of Technology in Elections


The IFES manual examines the pros and cons of technology in polls through international case studies

As democracies around the world increasingly use technology in their electoral processes, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has released a new publication, Direct Democracy: Progress and Pitfalls of Election Technology. The book sheds light on the benefits and possible limitations of technology in elections, and most importantly, how technology can be used most effectively.

“We are very proud of this publication as it provides a complete overview of the many factors to consider when adopting technology in elections. The book is composed of case studies from around the world that show the experience countries have had with electoral technology so far,” says Bill Sweeney, IFES President and CEO. 

Direct Democracy: Progress and Pitfalls of Election Technology, edited by Mike Yard, IFES Elections Administration and Technology Expert, addresses the use of technology in different aspects of the election process, specifically voter registration, electronic voting and results tabulation. These areas of focus are addressed in detail in the eight illustrative case studies.

Noting that there is often a tendency to regard technology as simply “better” or “worse,” the approach adopted by IFES instead addresses how technologies can be used effectively in the elections process.

A key question for electoral practitioners and election management bodies around the world is how best to preserve the basic principles of the electoral process such as transparency and accessibility while benefitting from the efficiencies that technology brings to the process. In the conclusion and recommendation section, Mr. Yard—who has over 25 years of experience in systems analysis and design and software development, and has advised election authorities in over 15 countries—addresses these issues.

Mr. Yard stresses the importance of adopting technologies that are appropriate for the countries. It is important that the technology be within the realm of what the electoral system can handle. The country’s infrastructure, technological capacity and security are three other factors that must also be considered.

It is also crucial that all election stakeholders be involved in the process of introducing technologies. Even when it is clear that technology could solve a certain problem in the elections process, it is important that political parties, civil society and electoral staff be invited to discuss the issue and the solution before it’s adopted.

Direct Democracy: Progress and Pitfalls of Election Technology