Elections and online voting

Elections are the current flavor of the season with the just concluded US Presidential elections and Bihar state election closer back home in India. This got me thinking of technology and elections. And specifically of the possibility of casting votes online either from computers or mobile phones. Large sections of population in developed nations or emerging nations today have access to internet and computers. Many of us perform large parts of our corporate work activities like mails, meetings, screen sharing, instant messaging etc. on laptops and mobiles in a fairly secure way. On the personal front we do online banking transactions, shopping, social media, travel and vacation reservations, GPS, stock trading, order food, hail taxis and many other things that are significantly important and of monetary value. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation across the world. Online education, health care, entertainment etc. are the need of the day. Then why not casting votes online via computers or mobile phones? The Pandemic makes online voting option as probably more important than ever?

A quick google search threw up some very interesting information. I learned that roughly 1 million people in Seattle used a mobile app to register their votes in early 2020 for a local election. West Virginia was the first US state to try mobile voting in 2018. Apparently, the small European nation of Estonia has been using online voting for several years and with good success. Ontario local elections in Canada and Switzerland have experimented and continue experimenting online voting. The research, observations and experiences from these online election exercises have pulled out some very interesting advantages:

While there are several obvious benefits there are also some serious concerns that remain. Here are a few:

These are all probably just an understated fraction of the pros and cons of online voting. The advantages are promising and online voting definitely a thing that I foresee increased adoption in the coming years. The concerns are real and genuine and need to be addressed on an ongoing basis before large scale adoption. There are potential emerging technology solutions like Block chain, secure encryption, finger printing, facial recognition, Analytics and ML etc. that can be used to solve the online voting concerns. It is something that I think will be used increasingly with small electoral populations and evolve in the next few years.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments. 

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