October 13, 2014 -
McAfee has sponsored a new Atlantic Council study that explores how online voting and e-voting could become more integrated in the international political process if particular technologies and processes are implemented to ensure its security.
Released at an event at the Atlantic Council, the study found that many of the technologies that are already being used for online financial transactions could also be applied to e-voting and online voting to increase its popularity in the future.
Estonia became the first country to hold nationwide elections through an e-voting system in 2005, and since then more than a quarter of the country’s population are voting online.
Additionally, e-voting is successfully used in other countries, including Australia, Brazil, France, and India.
“Online and e-voting are examples of how a greater emphasis on security could empower a new era in digital democracy,” said Michael DeCesare, president of McAfee.
“Yet it will take more than technology to foster acceptance of online and e-voting; people need to have trust and confidence in the process. Pilot programs for local elections could be the route to earning public trust on a small scale. Once that trust begins to expand, we could start seeing online and e-voting’s benefits – from increased voter turnout to more efficient elections.”
Currently, online and e-voting are not widely implemented because of various technical barriers and its relatively low public acceptance.
The study shows that with carefully chosen security precautions, online and e-voting could see increased usage among governments around the world.
The Atlantic Council researchers singled out cryptography, strong access control enabled by biometrics and securely written software as efficient ways of ensuring the safety of votes cast online and the integrity of the system.
The researchers emphasize that with these security considerations, online and e-voting could increase in popularity as the young generation of people who have grown up with the internet become older.
“It’s been fascinating to dive into case studies, like Estonia, and the theoretical research around this subject,” said Jason Healey, director of the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative. “Online and e-voting’s potential in terms of reach, access and participation has the chance to revolutionize the democratic process, but there are a series of serious risks that will have to be mitigated. But Estonia has shown that it is possible, and we hope that our recommendations for a path forward will generate more discussions and trials.”
Read the report ONLINE VOTING: REWARDS AND RISKS.