Lunchtime Research Seminars
21 May, 2013
11.45AM - 1.30PM
Electronic voting and electoral integrity
Assoc. Prof Rodney Smith
Chair: Dr. Ferran Martinez i Coma
Discussant: Assoc Prof. Ariadne Vromen
Synopsis: Forms of electronic voting are being used or seriously considered in a range of countries throughout the world. Alongside its advantages, electronic voting brings potential challenges to electoral integrity. These challenges have not been well understood, partly because their existence has been mobilised in heated public debates over electronic voting and partly because research on electronic voting has been dominated by computer scientists and information engineers whose expertise is in technical questions. Political scientists have tended to avoid serious consideration of the impact of electronic voting on elections and democracy. This paper attempts to identify some of the political factors needed to understand the effects of electronic voting on electoral integrity. The potential advantages and risks to electoral integrity posed by electronic voting depend on successes and failures of politics and public administration as much as on technical factors. The paper identifies the key points in the cycle of elections at which electronic voting can affect electoral integrity. It shows that the worldwide patterns of adoption and abandonment of electronic voting are more complex than is often thought. The trajectory of electronic voting use is not simply one of growth, or one of growing use in new democracies balanced against its abandonment by more established democracies. The paper identifies four broad effects of introducing electronic voting on electoral integrity. These can be summarised as: (i) electronic voting maintaining or improving electoral integrity in countries with already high levels of electoral integrity; (ii) electronic voting reducing electoral integrity in countries with high levels of electoral integrity; (iii) electronic voting improving electoral integrity in countries with low levels of electoral integrity; and (iv) electronic voting reducing electoral integrity in countries with already low levels of electoral integrity. These effects are illustrated using the cases of Switzerland, Ireland, Brazil and Kazakhstan. The paper concludes by identifying some key reasons that electronic voting leads to different electoral integrity outcomes.
All university staff and graduate research students are welcome to attend. Lunch and refreshments will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Paper available from: www.electoralintegrityproject.com
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