Considerations on Internet Voting: An Overview for Electoral Decision-Makers

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Publication Date: 
7 Apr 2020

Publication Type:

Meredith Applegate, Thomas Chanussot and Vladlen Basysty

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in and demand for moving services online, including voting. In the context of elections, the introduction of new technologies presents both new opportunities and enormous risks.

A new paper from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) aims to assist election stakeholders in determining whether internet voting would improve electoral integrity and active democracy or instead undermine public trust and compromise the security of the electoral process. Considerations on Internet Voting: An Overview for Electoral Decision-Makers provides a review of case studies and existing literature on internet voting to help decision makers ask the right questions when considering remote, online voting. This paper highlights the important lessons learned by countries that have piloted or implemented internet voting, with varied levels of success.

IFES recommends that internet voting be evaluated according to five parameters: cost, participation, efficiency, trust and security. Due to the high levels of planning, preparation and testing needed, it is unlikely that countries that do not already have the requisite systems in place would be able – or should even attempt – to launch internet voting as an immediate response to a crisis like COVID-19.

This analysis was made possible through the support of the United States Agency for International Development through the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS), Global Affairs Canada and UK aid. Established in 1995, CEPPS pools the expertise of three premier international organizations dedicated to democratic development: IFES, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute. CEPPS has a 20-year track record of collaboration and leadership in democracy, human rights and governance support, learning from experience, and adopting new approaches and tools based on the ever-evolving technological landscape.

Learn more about IFES' work on electoral technology and follow #COVIDxDemocracy for new analysis and innovative solutions during this time of uncertainty.

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