Electronic voting

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Electronic voting (also known as e-voting) is voting that uses electronic means to either aid or take care of casting and counting votes.

Voting method for a group such as a meeting or an electorate to make a decision or express an opinion

Voting is a method for a group, such as a meeting or an electorate, in order to make a collective decision or express an opinion, usually following discussions, debates or election campaigns. Democracies elect holders of high office by voting. Residents of a place represented by an elected official are called "constituents", and those constituents who cast a ballot for their chosen candidate are called "voters". There are different systems for collecting votes.

Electronics physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter

Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. The identification of the electron in 1897, along with the invention of the vacuum tube, which could amplify and rectify small electrical signals, inaugurated the field of electronics and the electron age.


Depending on the particular implementation, e-voting may use standalone electronic voting machines (also called EVM) or computers connected to the Internet. It may encompass a range of Internet services, from basic transmission of tabulated results to full-function online voting through common connectable household devices. The degree of automation may be limited to marking a paper ballot, or may be a comprehensive system of vote input, vote recording, data encryption and transmission to servers, and consolidation and tabulation of election results.

Internet Global system of connected computer networks

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.

Automation use of various control systems for operating equipment

Automation is the technology by which a process or procedure is performed with minimum human assistance. Automation or automatic control is the use of various control systems for operating equipment such as machinery, processes in factories, boilers and heat treating ovens, switching on telephone networks, steering and stabilization of ships, aircraft and other applications and vehicles with minimal or reduced human intervention. Some processes have been completely automated.

A worthy e-voting system must perform most of these tasks while complying with a set of standards established by regulatory bodies, and must also be capable to deal successfully with strong requirements associated with security, accuracy, integrity, swiftness, privacy, auditability, accessibility, cost-effectiveness, scalability and ecological sustainability.

Computer security, cybersecurity or information technology security is the protection of computer systems from theft or damage to their hardware, software or electronic data, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.

Privacy the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves

Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share common themes. When something is private to a person, it usually means that something is inherently special or sensitive to them. The domain of privacy partially overlaps with security (confidentiality), which can include the concepts of appropriate use, as well as protection of information. Privacy may also take the form of bodily integrity.

Electronic discovery refers to discovery in legal proceedings such as litigation, government investigations, or Freedom of Information Act requests, where the information sought is in electronic format. Electronic discovery is subject to rules of civil procedure and agreed-upon processes, often involving review for privilege and relevance before data are turned over to the requesting party.

Electronic voting technology can include punched cards, optical scan voting systems and specialized voting kiosks (including self-contained direct-recording electronic voting systems, or DRE). It can also involve transmission of ballots and votes via telephones, private computer networks, or the Internet.

Punched card recording medium

A punched card or punch card is a piece of stiff paper that can be used to contain digital data represented by the presence or absence of holes in predefined positions. Digital data can be used for data processing applications or, in earlier examples, used to directly control automated machinery.

An optical scan voting system is an electronic voting system and uses an optical scanner to read marked paper ballots and tally the results.

A ballot is a device used to cast votes in an election, and may be a piece of paper or a small ball used in secret voting. It was originally a small ball used to record decisions made by voters.

In general, two main types of e-voting can be identified:


Electronic voting technology intends to speed the counting of ballots, reduce the cost of paying staff to count votes manually and can provide improved accessibility for disabled voters.


It has been demonstrated that as voting systems become more complex and include software, different methods of election fraud become possible. Others also challenge the use of electronic voting from a theoretical point of view, arguing that humans are not equipped for verifying operations occurring within an electronic machine and that because people cannot verify these operations, the operations cannot be trusted. [6] Furthermore, some computing experts have argued for the broader notion that people cannot trust any programming they did not author. [7]

Critics of electronic voting, including security analyst Bruce Schneier, note that "computer security experts are unanimous on what to do (some voting experts disagree, but it is the computer security experts who need to be listened to; the problems here are with the computer, not with the fact that the computer is being used in a voting application)... DRE machines must have a voter-verifiable paper audit trails... Software used on DRE machines must be open to public scrutiny" [8] to ensure the accuracy of the voting system. Verifiable ballots are necessary because computers can and do malfunction, and because voting machines can be compromised.

Many insecurities have been found in commercial voting machines, such as using a default administration password. [9] [10] Cases have also been reported of machines making unpredictable, inconsistent errors. Key issues with electronic voting are therefore the openness of a system to public examination from outside experts, the creation of an authenticatable paper record of votes cast and a chain of custody for records. [11] [12]

There has been contention, especially in the United States, that electronic voting, especially DRE voting, could facilitate electoral fraud and may not be fully auditable. In addition, electronic voting has been criticised as unnecessary and expensive to introduce. While countries like India continue to use electronic voting, several countries have cancelled e-voting systems or decided against a large-scale rollout, notably the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany and the United Kingdom due to issues in reliability of EVMs. [13] [14]

Types of system

Electronic voting systems for electorates have been in use since the 1960s [15] when punched card systems debuted. Their first widespread use was in the USA where 7 counties switched to this method for the 1964 presidential election. [15] The newer optical scan voting systems allow a computer to count a voter's mark on a ballot. DRE voting machines which collect and tabulate votes in a single machine, are used by all voters in all elections in Brazil and India, and also on a large scale in Venezuela and the United States. They have been used on a large scale in the Netherlands but have been decommissioned after public concerns.[ citation needed ]

Internet voting systems have gained popularity and have been used for government elections and referendums in Estonia, and Switzerland [16] as well as municipal elections in Canada and party primary elections in the United States and France. [17]

There are also hybrid systems that include an electronic ballot marking device (usually a touch screen system similar to a DRE) or other assistive technology to print a voter verified paper audit trail, then use a separate machine for electronic tabulation.[ citation needed ]

Paper-based electronic voting system

A cart holding an ES&S M100 ballot scanner and an AutoMARK assistive device, as used in Johnson County, Iowa, United States in 2010. ES&S M100 Automark cart.jpg
A cart holding an ES&S M100 ballot scanner and an AutoMARK assistive device, as used in Johnson County, Iowa, United States in 2010.

Sometimes called a "document ballot voting system", paper-based voting systems originated as a system where votes are cast and counted by hand, using paper ballots. With the advent of electronic tabulation came systems where paper cards or sheets could be marked by hand, but counted electronically. These systems included punched card voting, marksense and later digital pen voting systems.[ citation needed ]

These systems can include a ballot marking device or electronic ballot marker that allows voters to make their selections using an electronic input device, usually a touch screen system similar to a DRE. Systems including a ballot marking device can incorporate different forms of assistive technology. In 2004, Open Voting Consortium demonstrated the 'Dechert Design', a General Public License open source paper ballot printing system with open source bar codes on each ballot.[ citation needed ]

Direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting system

Electronic voting machine by Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold Election Systems) used in all Brazilian elections and plebiscites. Photo by Agencia Brasil Urna eletronica.jpeg
Electronic voting machine by Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold Election Systems) used in all Brazilian elections and plebiscites. Photo by Agência Brasil

A direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine records votes by means of a ballot display provided with mechanical or electro-optical components that can be activated by the voter (typically buttons or a touchscreen); that processes data with computer software; and that records voting data and ballot images in memory components. After the election it produces a tabulation of the voting data stored in a removable memory component and as a printed copy. The system may also provide a means for transmitting individual ballots or vote totals to a central location for consolidating and reporting results from precincts at the central location. These systems use a precinct count method that tabulates ballots at the polling place. They typically tabulate ballots as they are cast and print the results after the close of polling. [18]

In 2002, in the United States, the Help America Vote Act mandated that one handicapped accessible voting system be provided per polling place, which most jurisdictions have chosen to satisfy with the use of DRE voting machines, some switching entirely over to DRE. In 2004, 28.9% of the registered voters in the United States used some type of direct recording electronic voting system, [19] up from 7.7% in 1996. [20]

Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) used in India Electronicvotingmachinewithbucu.jpg
Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) used in India

In 2004, India adopted Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) for its elections to its parliament with 380 million voters casting their ballots using more than one million voting machines. [21] The Indian EVMs are designed and developed by two government-owned defence equipment manufacturing units, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL). Both systems are identical, and are developed to the specifications of Election Commission of India. The system is a set of two devices running on 7.5 volt batteries. One device, the voting Unit is used by the voter, and another device called the control unit is operated by the electoral officer. Both units are connected by a five-metre cable. The voting unit has a blue button for each candidate. The unit can hold 16 candidates, but up to four units can be chained, to accommodate 64 candidates. The control unit has three buttons on the surface – one button to release a single vote, one button to see the total number of votes cast till now, and one button to close the election process. The result button is hidden and sealed. It cannot be pressed unless the close button has already been pressed. A controversy was raised when the voting machine malfunctioned which was shown in parliament. [22]

Public network DRE voting system

A public network DRE voting system is an election system that uses electronic ballots and transmits vote data from the polling place to another location over a public network. Vote data may be transmitted as individual ballots as they are cast, periodically as batches of ballots throughout the election day, or as one batch at the close of voting. This includes Internet voting as well as telephone voting.

Public network DRE voting system can utilize either precinct count or central count method. The central count method tabulates ballots from multiple precincts at a central location.

Internet voting can use remote locations (voting from any Internet capable computer) or can use traditional polling locations with voting booths consisting of Internet connected voting systems.

Corporations and organizations routinely use Internet voting to elect officers and board members and for other proxy elections. Internet voting systems have been used privately in many modern nations and publicly in the United States, the UK, Switzerland and Estonia. In Switzerland, where it is already an established part of local referendums, voters get their passwords to access the ballot through the postal service. Most voters in Estonia can cast their vote in local and parliamentary elections, if they want to, via the Internet, as most of those on the electoral roll have access to an e-voting system, the largest run by any European Union country. It has been made possible because most Estonians carry a national identity card equipped with a computer-readable microchip and it is these cards which they use to get access to the online ballot. All a voter needs is a computer, an electronic card reader, their ID card and its PIN, and they can vote from anywhere in the world. Estonian e-votes can only be cast during the days of advance voting. On election day itself people have to go to polling stations and fill in a paper ballot.

Online voting

In March 2000 the Arizona Democratic Party ran its Presidential Primary over the internet using the private company votation.com. [23] Each registered member of the party received a personal identification number in the mail. These citizens had the option to either cast ballots at a designated location or over the internet from the comfort of their own home. Voters voting over the internet were required to insert their PIN and answer two personal questions. Once all the information is verified, they have the voting options. [24]

By 2009, Estonia had advanced the farthest in utilizing Internet voting technology. [25] In Estonia, each voter has a national ID card that they use to identify each citizen. The ID card is the security Estonia put in to ensure reliability in votes. Security officials said that they have not detected any unusual activity or tampering of the votes. [26]

Impact on turnout

A 2017 study of online voting in two Swiss cantons found that it had no effect on turnout. [27]

A paper on “remote electronic voting and turnout in the Estonian 2007 parliamentary elections” showed that rather than eliminating inequalities, e-voting might have enhanced the digital divide between higher and lower socioeconomic classes. People who lived greater distances from polling areas voted at higher levels with this service now available. The 2007 Estonian elections yielded a higher voter turnout from those who lived in higher income regions and who received formal education. [28]

Impact on election outcomes

The use of electronic voting in elections remains a contentious issue. Some countries such as Netherlands and Germany have stopped using it after it was shown to be unreliable, while the Indian Election commission recommends it. The involvement of numerous stakeholders including companies that manufacture these machines as well as political parties that stand to gain from rigging complicates this further. [29]

A 2017 study of Brazil found no systematic difference in vote choices between online and offline electorates. [30]

However, it has been also argued that the rigging of EVMs influenced the results of elections in India in 2017 to a large extent. [31]

It has further been argued political parties that have more support from the less fortunate—who are unfamiliar with the Internet—may suffer in the elections due to e-voting, which tends to increase voting in the upper/middle class. It is unsure as to whether narrowing the digital divide would promote equal voting opportunities for people across various social, economic and ethnic backgrounds. In the long run, this is contingent not only on internet accessibility, which is already widely available in Estonia, but also depends on people’s level of familiarity with the Internet. [28]

The security of these in person electronic voting machines is almost entirely dependent on the implementation of security protocols at each locality. A group of researchers studying the recent Estonian elections describe massive operational lapses in security from transferring election results on personal thumb drives to posting network credentials on the wall in view of the public. The researchers concluded that these systems are insecure in their current implementation, and due to the rise of nation state interest in influencing elections, should be "discontinue[d]." [32]


ISG TopVoter, a machine designed specifically to be used by voters with disabilities. Topvoter2.jpg
ISG TopVoter, a machine designed specifically to be used by voters with disabilities.

Electronic voting systems may offer advantages compared to other voting techniques. An electronic voting system can be involved in any one of a number of steps in the setup, distributing, voting, collecting, and counting of ballots, and thus may or may not introduce advantages into any of these steps. Potential disadvantages exist as well including the potential for flaws or weakness in any electronic component.

Charles Stewart of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimates that 1 million more ballots were counted in the 2004 USA presidential election than in 2000 because electronic voting machines detected votes that paper-based machines would have missed. [33]

In May 2004 the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report titled "Electronic Voting Offers Opportunities and Presents Challenges", [34] analyzing both the benefits and concerns created by electronic voting. A second report was released in September 2005 detailing some of the concerns with electronic voting, and ongoing improvements, titled "Federal Efforts to Improve Security and Reliability of Electronic Voting Systems Are Under Way, but Key Activities Need to Be Completed". [35]

Electronic ballots

Electronic voting systems may use electronic ballot to store votes in computer memory. Systems which use them exclusively are called DRE voting systems. When electronic ballots are used there is no risk of exhausting the supply of ballots. Additionally, these electronic ballots remove the need for printing of paper ballots, a significant cost. [36] When administering elections in which ballots are offered in multiple languages (in some areas of the United States, public elections are required by the National Voting Rights Act of 1965), electronic ballots can be programmed to provide ballots in multiple languages for a single machine. The advantage with respect to ballots in different languages appears to be unique to electronic voting. For example, King County, Washington's demographics require them under U.S. federal election law to provide ballot access in Chinese. With any type of paper ballot, the county has to decide how many Chinese-language ballots to print, how many to make available at each polling place, etc. Any strategy that can assure that Chinese-language ballots will be available at all polling places is certain, at the very least, to result in a significant number of wasted ballots.[ citation needed ] (The situation with lever machines would be even worse than with paper: the only apparent way to reliably meet the need would be to set up a Chinese-language lever machine at each polling place, few of which would be used at all.)

Critics argue[ who? ] the need for extra ballots in any language can be mitigated by providing a process to print ballots at voting locations. They argue further, the cost of software validation, compiler trust validation, installation validation, delivery validation and validation of other steps related to electronic voting is complex and expensive, thus electronic ballots are not guaranteed to be less costly than printed ballots.[ citation needed ]


A Hart eSlate DRE voting machine with jelly buttons for people with manual dexterity disabilities. Jellybuttons.jpg
A Hart eSlate DRE voting machine with jelly buttons for people with manual dexterity disabilities.

Electronic voting machines can be made fully accessible for persons with disabilities. Punched card and optical scan machines are not fully accessible for the blind or visually impaired, and lever machines can be difficult for voters with limited mobility and strength. [37] Electronic machines can use headphones, sip and puff, foot pedals, joy sticks and other adaptive technology to provide the necessary accessibility.

Organizations such as the Verified Voting Foundation have criticized the accessibility of electronic voting machines [38] and advocate alternatives. Some disabled voters (including the visually impaired) could use a tactile ballot, a ballot system using physical markers to indicate where a mark should be made, to vote a secret paper ballot. These ballots can be designed identically to those used by other voters. [39] However, other disabled voters (including voters with dexterity disabilities) could be unable to use these ballots.

Cryptographic verification

The concept of election verifiability through cryptographic solutions has emerged in the academic literature to introduce transparency and trust in electronic voting systems. [40] [41] It allows voters and election observers to verify that votes have been recorded, tallied and declared correctly, in a manner independent from the hardware and software running the election. Three aspects of verifiability are considered: [42] individual, universal, and eligibility. Individual verifiability allows a voter to check that her own vote is included in the election outcome, universal verifiability allows voters or election observers to check that the election outcome corresponds to the votes cast, and eligibility verifiability allows voters and observers to check that each vote in the election outcome was cast by a uniquely registered voter.

Voter intent

Electronic voting machines are able to provide immediate feedback to the voter detecting such possible problems as undervoting and overvoting which may result in a spoiled ballot. This immediate feedback can be helpful in successfully determining voter intent.


It has been alleged by groups such as the UK-based Open Rights Group [43] [44] that a lack of testing, inadequate audit procedures, and insufficient attention given to system or process design with electronic voting leaves "elections open to error and fraud".

In 2009, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany found that when using voting machines the "verification of the result must be possible by the citizen reliably and without any specialist knowledge of the subject." The DRE Nedap-computers used till then did not fulfill that requirement. The decision did not ban electronic voting as such, but requires all essential steps in elections to be subject to public examinability. [45] [46]

In 2013, The California Association of Voting Officials was formed to maintain efforts toward publicly owned General Public License open source voting systems

Coercion evidence

In 2013, researchers from Europe proposed that the electronic voting systems should be coercion evident. [47] There should be a public evidence of the amount of coercion that took place in a particular elections. An internet voting system called "Caveat Coercitor" [48] shows how coercion evidence in voting systems can be achieved. [47]

Audit trails

A fundamental challenge with any voting machine is produce evidence that the votes were recorded as cast and tabulated as recorded. Election results produced by voting systems that rely on voter-marked paper ballots can be verified with manual hand counts (either valid sampling or full recounts). Non-document ballot voting systems must support auditability in different ways. An independently auditable system, sometimes called an Independent Verification, can be used in recounts or audits. These systems can include the ability for voters to verify how their votes were cast or enable officials to verify that votes were tabulated correctly.

A discussion draft argued by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) states, "Simply put, the DRE architecture’s inability to provide for independent audits of its electronic records makes it a poor choice for an environment in which detecting errors and fraud is important." [49] The report does not represent the official position of NIST, and misinterpretations of the report has led NIST to explain that "Some statements in the report have been misinterpreted. The draft report includes statements from election officials, voting system vendors, computer scientists and other experts in the field about what is potentially possible in terms of attacks on DREs. However, these statements are not report conclusions." [50]

A Diebold Election Systems, Inc. model AccuVote-TSx DRE voting machine with VVPAT attachment. Desi accuvote-tsx vvpat.jpg
A Diebold Election Systems, Inc. model AccuVote-TSx DRE voting machine with VVPAT attachment.

Various technologies can be used to assure DRE voters that their votes were cast correctly, and allow officials to detect possible fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the tabulated results. Some systems include technologies such as cryptography (visual or mathematical), paper (kept by the voter or verified and left with election officials), audio verification, and dual recording or witness systems (other than with paper).

Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, the creator of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) concept (as described in her Ph.D. dissertation in October 2000 on the basic voter verifiable ballot system), proposes to answer the auditability question by having the voting machine print a paper ballot or other paper facsimile that can be visually verified by the voter before being entered into a secure location. Subsequently, this is sometimes referred to as the "Mercuri method." To be truly voter-verified, the record itself must be verified by the voter and able to be done without assistance, such as visually or audibly. If the voter must use a bar-code scanner or other electronic device to verify, then the record is not truly voter-verifiable, since it is actually the electronic device that is verifying the record for the voter. VVPAT is the form of Independent Verification most commonly found in elections in the United States and other countries such as Venezuela. [51]

End-to-end auditable voting systems can provide the voter with a receipt that can be taken home. This receipt does not allow voters to prove to others how they voted, but it does allow them to verify that the system detected their vote correctly. End-to-end (E2E) systems include Punchscan, ThreeBallot and Prêt à Voter. Scantegrity is an add-on that extends current optical scan voting systems with an E2E layer. The city of Takoma Park, Maryland used Scantegrity II for its November, 2009 election. [52] [53]

Systems that allow the voter to prove how they voted are never used in U.S. public elections, and are outlawed by most state constitutions. The primary concerns with this solution are voter intimidation and vote selling.

An audit system can be used in measured random recounts to detect possible malfunction or fraud. With the VVPAT method, the paper ballot is often treated as the official ballot of record. In this scenario, the ballot is primary and the electronic records are used only for an initial count. In any subsequent recounts or challenges, the paper, not the electronic ballot, would be used for tabulation. Whenever a paper record serves as the legal ballot, that system will be subject to the same benefits and concerns as any paper ballot system.

To successfully audit any voting machine, a strict chain of custody is required.

The solution was first demonstrated (New York City, March 2001) and used (Sacramento, California 2002) by AVANTE International Technology, Inc.. In 2004 Nevada was the first state to successfully implement a DRE voting system that printed an electronic record. The $9.3 million voting system provided by Sequoia Voting Systems included more than 2,600 AVC EDGE touchscreen DREs equipped with the VeriVote VVPAT component. [54] The new systems, implemented under the direction of then Secretary of State Dean Heller replaced largely punched card voting systems and were chosen after feedback was solicited from the community through town hall meetings and input solicited from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. [55]


Inadequately secured hardware can be subject to physical tampering. Some critics, such as the group "Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet" ("We do not trust voting machines"), charge that, for instance, foreign hardware could be inserted into the machine, or between the user and the central mechanism of the machine itself, using a man in the middle attack technique, and thus even sealing DRE machines may not be sufficient protection. [56] This claim is countered by the position that review and testing procedures can detect fraudulent code or hardware, if such things are present, and that a thorough, verifiable chain of custody would prevent the insertion of such hardware or software.[ citation needed ] Security seals are commonly employed in an attempt to detect tampering, but testing by Argonne National Laboratory and others demonstrates that existing seals can usually be quickly defeated by a trained person using low-tech methods. [57]


Security experts, such as Bruce Schneier, have demanded that voting machine source code should be publicly available for inspection. [58] Others have also suggested publishing voting machine software under a free software license as is done in Australia. [59]

Testing and certification

One method to any error with voting machines is parallel testing, which are conducted on the Election Day with randomly picked machines. The ACM published a study showing that, to change the outcome of the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, only 2 votes in each precinct would have needed to be changed. [60]


Criticisms can be mitigated by review and testing procedures to detect fraudulent code or hardware, if such things are present, and through a verifiable chain of custody to prevent the insertion of such hardware or software.[ citation needed ]

Critics also mention the increasing number of attack programs that online voting systems are greatly susceptible to. Malicious payloads- software data intended to do damage- have become so advanced that they can easily change a voter’s vote without any knowledge to other parties, regardless of voter identification or encryption software. [61]

Benefits can include reduced tabulation times and an increase of participation (voter turnout), particularly through the use of Internet voting.[ citation needed ]

Those in opposition suggest alternate vote counting systems, citing Switzerland (as well as many other countries), which uses paper ballots exclusively, suggesting that electronic voting is not the only means to get a rapid count of votes. A country of a little over 7 million people, Switzerland publishes a definitive ballot count in about six hours. In villages, the ballots are even counted manually.[ citation needed ]

Critics also note that it becomes difficult or impossible to verify the identity of a voter remotely, and that the introduction of public networks become more vulnerable and complex.[ citation needed ]

Whether the total cost of ownership with electronic voting is lower than other systems is not yet[ when? ] clear.[ citation needed ]

By country

Polling place electronic voting or Internet voting examples have taken place in Australia, [62] Belgium, [63] [64] Brazil, Canada, [65] Estonia, [66] [67] France, Germany, India, [21] Italy, Namibia, the Netherlands (Rijnland Internet Election System), Norway, Peru, Switzerland, the UK, [68] Venezuela, [69] and the Philippines. [70]


In 1996, after tests conducted on more than 50 municipalities, the Brazilian Electoral Justice has launched their "voting machine". Since 2000, all Brazilian voters are able to use the electronic ballot boxes to choose their candidates. In 2010 presidential election which had more than 135 million voters, the result was defined 75 minutes after the end of voting. The electronic ballot box is made up of two micro-terminals (one located in the voting cabin and the other with the voting board representative) which are connected by a 5-meter cable. Externally, the micro-terminals have only a numerical keyboard, which does not accept any command executed by the simultaneous pressure of more than one key. In case of power failure, the internal battery provides the energy or it can be connected to an automotive battery. The Brazilian electronic ballot box serves today as a model for other countries. [71]


Each Estonian citizen possesses an electronic chip-enabled ID card, which allows the user to vote over the internet. The ID card is inserted into a card reader, which is connected to a computer. Once the user's identity is verified (using the electronic ID card as a sort of digital signature), a vote can be cast via the internet. Votes are not considered final until the end of election day, so Estonian citizens can go back and re-cast their votes until election day is officially over. The popularity of online voting in Estonia has increased widely throughout the nation, as in the elections of 2014 and 2015, nearly one third of Estonian votes were cast online. [72] [73]


Electronic Voting Machines ("EVM") are being used in Indian General and State Elections to implement electronic voting in part from 1999 elections and recently in 2017 state elections held in five states across India. EVMs have replaced paper ballots in local, state and general (parliamentary) elections in India. There were earlier claims regarding EVMs' tamperability and security which have not been proved.After rulings of Delhi High Court, Supreme Court and demands from various political parties,Election Commission decided to introduce EVMs with voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system. The VVPAT system was introduced in 8 of 543 parliamentary constituencies as a pilot project in Indian general election, 2014.Since 2015 all opposition parties demand elections to be conducted via ballot paper due to reports of rigging election conducted through EVMs.


Electronic voting had been used in 2018 People's Justice Party leadership election, which is the party election for the country's largest party. It had suffer many technical problems and many polls had been postponed due to the poor system. [74] [75]

United States

Timeline of development


The Norden-Coleman optical scan voting system, the first such system to see actual use, was adopted for use in Orange County, California. [76]


The Video Voter, the first DRE voting machine used in a government election, developed by the Frank Thornber Company in Chicago, Illinois, saw its first trial use in 1974 near Chicago. [77]

Mar. 1975

The U.S. Government is given a report by Roy Saltman, a consultant in developing election technology and policies, in which the certification of voting machines is analyzed for the first time.

Aug 28, 1986

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (UOCAVA) requires that US states allow certain groups of citizens to register and vote absentee in elections for federal offices. [78]


The FEC (Federal Election Commission) released a universalized standard for computerized voting.


The Reform Party uses I-Voting (Internet Voting) to select their presidential candidate. This election is the first governmental election to use this method in the U.S. [79]

May 2002

The FEC revised the standards established for electronic voting from 1990.

Nov 2004

4,438 of votes in the general election is lost by North Carolina’s electronic voting machines. The machines continued to count electronic votes past the device's memory capacity and the votes were irretrievably lost.

Dec 2005

Black Box Voting showed how easy it is to hack an electronic voting system. Computer experts in Leon County, Fl lead a simulation where they changed the outcome of a mock election by tampering with the tabulator without leaving evidence of their actions.

Sep 13, 2006

It was demonstrated that Diebold Electronic Voting Machine can be hacked in less than a minute. Princeton's Professor of Computer Science, Edward Felten who installed a malware which could steal votes and replace them with fraudulent numbers without physically coming in contact with the voting machine or its memory card. The malware can also program a virus that can spread from machine to machine.

Sep 21, 2006

The governor of Maryland, Bob Ehrlich (R), advised against casting electronic votes as an alternative method for casting paper absentee ballots. This was a complete turn around since Maryland became one of the first states to accept electronic voting systems statewide during his term.

Sep 3, 2009

Diebold, responsible for much of the technology in the election-systems business, sells their hold to Election Systems & Software, Inc for $5 Million, less than 1/5 of its price seven years earlier. [80]

Oct 28, 2009

The federal Military and Overseas Voters Empowerment Act (MOVE) requires US states to provide ballots to UOCAVA voters in at least one electronic format (email, fax, or an online delivery system). [81]

Jan 3, 2013

Voter Empowerment Act of 2013 – This act requires each US state to make available public websites for online voter registration. [82]

Astronauts in orbit

Texas law has allowed American astronauts who cannot vote in person and are unable to vote via absentee ballot, such as those aboard the International Space Station and Mir space station, to cast their ballots in federal elections electronically from orbit since 1997. Ballots are sent via secure email to the Johnson Spaceflight Center and then passed on to the astronauts' home counties in Texas. [83] [84]

Recommendations for improvement

In December 2005 the US Election Assistance Commission unanimously adopted the 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, which significantly increase security requirements for voting systems and expand access, including opportunities to vote privately and independently, for individuals with disabilities. The guidelines took effect in December 2007 replacing the 2002 Voting System Standards (VSS) developed by the Federal Election Commission.

Some groups such as the Open Voting Consortium believe that to restore voter confidence and to reduce the potential for fraud, all electronic voting systems must be completely available to public scrutiny.

Also proposed is the requirement for use of open public standards and specifications such as the Election Markup Language (EML) standard developed by OASIS and now under consideration by ISO (see documents and schemas). [85] These can provide consistent processes and mechanisms for managing and performing elections using computer systems.


In the summer of 2004, the Legislative Affairs Committee of the Association of Information Technology Professionals issued a nine-point proposal for national standards for electronic voting. [86] In an accompanying article, the committee's chair, Charles Oriez, described some of the problems that had arisen around the country. [87] [88]

Legislation has been introduced in the United States Congress regarding electronic voting, including the Nelson-Whitehouse bill. This bill would appropriate as much as 1 billion dollars to fund states' replacement of touch screen systems with optical scan voting system. The legislation also addresses requiring audits of 3% of precincts in all federal elections. It also mandates some form of paper trail audits for all electronic voting machines by the year 2012 on any type of voting technology. [89]

Another bill, HR.811 (The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003), proposed by Representative Rush D. Holt, Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, would act as an amendment to the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and require electronic voting machines to produce a paper audit trail for every vote. [90] The U.S. Senate companion bill version introduced by Senator Bill Nelson from Florida on November 1, 2007, necessitates the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to continue researching and to provide methods of paper ballot voting for those with disabilities, those who do not primarily speak English, and those who do not have a high literacy rating. Also, it requires states to provide the federal office with audit reports from the hand counting of the voter verified paper ballots. Currently, this bill has been turned over to the United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and a vote date has not been set. [91]

During 2008, Congressman Holt, because of an increasing concern regarding the insecurities surrounding the use of electronic voting technology, submitted additional bills to Congress regarding the future of electronic voting. One, called the "Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008" (HR5036), states that the General Services Administration will reimburse states for the extra costs of providing paper ballots to citizens, and the costs needed to hire people to count them. [92] This bill was introduced to the House on January 17, 2008. [93] This bill estimates that $500 million will be given to cover costs of the reconversion to paper ballots; $100 million given to pay the voting auditors; and $30 million given to pay the hand counters. This bill provides the public with the choice to vote manually if they do not trust the electronic voting machines. [92] A voting date has not yet been determined.

The Secure America's Future Elections Act or the SAFE Act (HR 1562) was among the relevant legislation introduced in the 115th Congress. The bill's provisions include designation of the infrastructure used to administer elections as critical infrastructure; funding for states to upgrade the security of the information technology and cybersecurity elements of election-related IT systems; and requirements for durable, readable paper ballots and manual audits of results of elections.

South Africa

Thanks to the Internet, voters can cast their ballots over the electronic voting systems conveniently and efficiently without going to the polling stations. E-voting is a new technology has been implemented by developed countries; most of the research has embraced this technology within this context. Therefore, there is a necessity to explore the implementation and adoption of this technology in developing countries such as South Africa. Although the e-voting system has not yet been implemented in South Africa, researchers such as myself are attempted to study e-voting deployment opportunities in South Africa.

[94] In the Report on e-voting, in the seminar that was held in Cape Town South Africa, date 12 and 12th March 2013 South Africa’s former President Kgalema Motlanthe, challenged the country’s IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) to explore the possibility of e-voting due to the aftermath of the 2009 national and provincial elections, where the country saw an increase in the number of voting stations from 14 650 in 1999 to 19 726, hence South Africa is now looking to move into electronic voting systems since there is also evidence that e-voting reduces the costs of elections – paper printing and workforce costs – as these have been developed and are developing for decades with the aim of allowing an easier participation of the citizens in the decision-making process, but without the physical and human resources needed in a traditional voting.

Countries like Mexico, Turkey and Nigeria who did surveys on the voters’ perception of security and other trust factors got an overall result that automated elections mean that people can trust the results because it allows for a process that is auditable, transparent and secure, since it helps reduce human error. Where for other largely populated countries like Brazil, India and the Philippines, electronic voting and electronic counting means that people can get official election results within hours, instead of weeks.

Alomari and Figueroa In a nut shell, the main feature of democracy is the right or chance to vote, express an opinion, and/or participate in a decision – voting which gives freedom to choose the best leader for the country, said [95] (Osho et al., 2015). This alone gives opportunity to the people to choose a leader and express their point of view. This proposal is to ensure that this expectation is met with the deployment of e-voting system.

Not only is e-voting great with the turn-around-time on producing results but it also provides a greater auditable auditing process of the election results where necessary. As stated by Sedky & Hamed that sometimes electronic have and will produce errors in the election's result due to problems with hardware and/or software, or procedures. Auditing has such benefits in revealing when recounts are necessary to verify election outcomes, finding errors whether accidental or intentional, deterring fraud and promoting public confidence in elections.

Main objectives to be considered when thinking e-voting in South Africa

  • To determine factors needed for the deployment of e-voting in South Africa
  • To identify the measures taken when deploying e-voting in South Africa
  • To analyze the influence of the identified factors needed to deploy e-voting in South Africa


Professor Osho did a research which intended to address the concerns about data security, verifiability and certification and cost; the basic factors to be considered when deploying e-Voting. He created a conceptual framework which combined 3 theories to build 1 conceptual framework through the 5 constructs – in assisting to arrive to the aiming of this research. Thus, the research papers identified that there is a need to understand the security and cost concerns.

The 3 theoretical frameworks being used in this research paper to create 1 conceptual framework will help complete this study. Namely they are:

  1. Process Visualization Theory, for processes that have relied on physical interaction between people, and between people and objects are being migrated to virtual environments in which physical interaction is not available. And the constructs needed for it are Representation and Monitoring Capacity to produce a Synchronism Requirements in the Process.
  2. Portfolio Theory: The IT projects portfolios are formed according to the organization’s strategic objectives, the risks, project costs, the impact on the company’s success factors and resource use. And the construct needed for it the Cost construct.
  3. Contingency Theory : uses IT, publication of information can be controlled and relevant information can be shared with relevant access controlled parties. This technique uses “role based security” system which allows all the benefits of IT while still maintaining confidentiality. And the constructs needed for it are Data management and Security.

Documented problems with electronic voting






United States

Problems in the United States general elections, 2006
2008 United States elections
California top-to-bottom review

In May 2007, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen commissioned a "top-to-bottom review" of all electronic voting systems in the state. She engaged computer security experts led by the University of California to perform security evaluations of voting system source code as well as "red teams" running "worst case" Election Day scenarios attempting to identify vulnerabilities to tampering or error. The Top to Bottom review also included a comprehensive review of manufacturer documentation as well as a review of accessibility features and alternative language requirements.

The end results of the tests were released in the four detailed Secretary of State August 3, 2007, resolutions (for Diebold Election Systems, Hart InterCivic, Sequoia Voting Systems and Elections Systems and Software, Inc.) and updated October 25, 2007 revised resolutions for Diebold and Sequoia voting systems. [125] The security experts found significant security flaws in all of the manufacturers' voting systems, flaws that could allow a single non-expert to compromise an entire election.

On August 3, 2007, Bowen decertified machines that were tested in her top-to-bottom view including the ES&S InkaVote machine, which was not included in the review because the company submitted it past the deadline for testing. The report issued July 27, 2007, was conducted by the expert "red team" attempting to detect the levels of technological vulnerability. Another report on August 2, 2007 was conducted by a source code review team to detect flaws in voting system source code. Both reports found that three of the tested systems fell far short of the minimum requirements specified in the 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). Some of the systems tested were conditionally recertified with new stringent security requirements imposed. [126] The companies in question have until the February 2008 California Presidential Primaries to fix their security issues and ensure that election results can be closely audited.

The Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold Election Systems) AccuVote-TSx voting system was studied by a group of Princeton University computer scientists in 2006. Their results showed that the AccuVote-TSx was insecure and could be "installed with vote-stealing software in under a minute." The scientists also said that machines can transmit computer viruses from one to another "during normal pre- and post-election activity." [127]

2000 presidential election in Florida

Punched cards received considerable notoriety in 2000 when their uneven use in Votomatic style systems in Florida was alleged to have affected the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Invented by Joseph P. Harris, Votomatic was manufactured for a time under license by IBM. William Rouverol, who built the prototype and wrote patents, stated that after the patents expired in 1982, lower quality machines had appeared on the market. The machines used in Florida had five times as many errors as a true Votomatic, he said. [128]

Punched-card-based voting systems, the Votomatic system in particular, use special cards where each possible hole is pre-scored, allowing perforations to be made by the voter pressing a stylus through a guide in the voting machine. A problem with this system is the incomplete punch; this can lead to a smaller hole than expected, or to a mere slit in the card, or to a mere dimple in the card, or to a hanging chad . This technical problem was claimed by the Democratic Party to have influenced the 2000 U.S. presidential election in the state of Florida; critics claimed that punched card voting machines were primarily used in Democratic areas and that hundreds of ballots were not read properly or were disqualified due to incomplete punches, which allegedly tipped the vote in favor of George W. Bush over Al Gore.

In the 2006 film Man of the Year starring Robin Williams, the character played by Williams—a comedic host of political talk show—wins the election for President of the United States when a software error in the electronic voting machines produced by the fictional manufacturer Delacroy causes votes to be tallied inaccurately.

In Runoff, a 2007 novel by Mark Coggins, a surprising showing by the Green Party candidate in a San Francisco Mayoral election forces a runoff between him and the highly favored establishment candidate—a plot line that closely parallels the actual results of the 2003 election. When the private-eye protagonist of the book investigates at the behest of a powerful Chinatown businesswoman, he determines that the outcome was rigged by someone who defeated the security on the city's newly installed e-voting system. [129]

"Hacking Democracy" is a 2006 documentary film shown on HBO. Filmed over three years, it documents American citizens investigating anomalies and irregularities with electronic voting systems that occurred during America's 2000 and 2004 elections, especially in Volusia County, Florida. The film investigates the flawed integrity of electronic voting machines, particularly those made by Diebold Election Systems and culminates in the hacking of a Diebold election system in Leon County, Florida.

The central conflict in the MMO video game Infantry resulted from the global institution of direct democracy through the use of personal voting devices sometime in the 22nd century AD. The practice gave rise to a 'voting class' of citizens composed mostly of homemakers and retirees who tended to be at home all day. Because they had the most free time to participate in voting, their opinions ultimately came to dominate politics. [130]

Electronic voting manufacturers

Academic efforts

See also

Related Research Articles

Premier Election Solutions, formerly Diebold Election Systems, Inc. (DESI), was a subsidiary of Diebold that makes and sells voting machines.

A voting machine is a machine used to register and tabulate votes. The first voting machines were mechanical but it is increasingly more common to use electronic voting machines. Traditionally, a voting machine has been defined by the mechanism the system uses to cast votes and further categorized by the location where the system tabulates the votes.

Help America Vote Act election law

The Help America Vote Act of 2002, or HAVA, is a United States federal law which passed in the House 357-48 and 92-2 in the Senate and was signed into law by President Bush on October 29, 2002. The bill was drafted in reaction to the controversy surrounding the 2000 U.S. presidential election, when almost two million ballots were disqualified because they registered multiple votes or none when run through vote-counting machines.

Electronic voting in India component of Indian electoral system

Electronic Voting Machines ("EVM") are being used in Indian General and State Elections to implement electronic voting in part from 1999 elections and recently in 2018 state elections held in five states across India. EVMs have replaced paper ballots in local, state and general (parliamentary) elections in India. There were earlier claims regarding EVMs' tamparability and security which have not been proved. After rulings of Delhi High Court, Supreme Court and demands from various political parties, Election Commission decided to introduce EVMs with voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) system. The VVPAT system was introduced in 8 of 543 parliamentary constituencies as a pilot project in Indian general election, 2014. Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and EVMs are now used in every assembly and general election in India.

Black box voting signifies voting on voting machines which do not disclose how they operate such as with closed source or proprietary operations. If a voting machine does not provide a tangible record of individual votes cast then it can be described as black box voting.

Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) or verifiable paper record (VPR) is a method of providing feedback to voters using a ballotless voting system. A VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction, and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results. It contains the name of the candidate and symbol of the party/individual candidate.

Will Doherty is the former executive director of the Verified Voting Foundation and VerifiedVoting.org and was the originator of the Election Incident Reporting System, used to detect over 40,000 problems with the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election and to ensure that all legally qualified voters would have the opportunity to vote.

Election Systems & Software

Election Systems & Software (ES&S) is an Omaha, Nebraska-based company that manufactures and sells voting machine equipment and services. The company's offerings include vote tabulators, direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines, voter registration and election management systems, ballot-marking devices, electronic poll books, Ballot on Demand printing services, and absentee voting-by-mail services.

A direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine records votes by means of a ballot display provided with mechanical or electro-optical components that can be activated by the voter ; that processes data by means of a computer program; and that records voting data and ballot images in memory components. After the election it produces a tabulation of the voting data stored in a removable memory component and as printed copy. The system may also provide a means for transmitting individual ballots or vote totals to a central location for consolidating and reporting results from precincts at the central location. The device started to be massively used in 1996, in Brazil, where 100% of the elections voting system is carried out using machines.

The Mercuri method is another name for a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail—a modification to DRE (electronic) voting machines that provides for a physical (paper) audit record that may be used to verify the electronic vote count.

End-to-end auditable or end-to-end voter verifiable (E2E) systems are voting systems with stringent integrity properties and strong tamper resistance. E2E systems often employ cryptographic methods to craft receipts that allow voters to verify that their votes were counted as cast, without revealing which candidates were voted for. As such, these systems are sometimes referred to as receipt-based systems.

An election recount is a repeat tabulation of votes cast in an election that is used to determine the correctness of an initial count. Recounts will often take place in the event that the initial vote tally during an election is extremely close.

The following is a list of examples of electronic voting from elections around the world. Examples include polling place voting electronic voting and Internet voting.

Scantegrity is a security enhancement for optical scan voting systems, providing such systems with end-to-end (E2E) verifiability of election results. It uses confirmation codes to allow a voter to prove to themselves that their ballot is included unmodified in the final tally. The codes are privacy-preserving and offer no proof of which candidate a voter voted for. Receipts can be safely shown without compromising ballot secrecy.

Risk-limiting audit

A risk limiting post-election audit is one of several types of election audits. It is based on hand counts of statistical samples of paper ballots, which are stored from election day to the time of the audit. It tests whether election results identified the correct winner(s). Specifically, if samples find few discrepancies, the public knows there is a limited risk that the initial winners are wrong. If samples find substantial discrepancies, the risk-limiting audit, like most but not all other election audits, requires a 100% recount by hand, to identify the correct winner(s).

A ballot marking device (BMD) or vote recorder is a type of voting machine used by voters to record votes on physical ballots. In general, ballot marking devices neither store nor tabulate ballots, but only allow the voter to record votes on ballots that are then stored and tabulated elsewhere.

Election auditing refers to any review conducted after polls close for the purpose of determining whether the votes were counted accurately or whether proper procedures were followed, or both.

Verified Voting Foundation

The Verified Voting Foundation is an non-governmental, nonpartisan organization founded in 2003 by David L. Dill, a computer scientist from Stanford University, designed to preserve the democratic process with modern day voting advancements. Dill’s educational nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization has grown quickly since its founding and seeks to represent concerned citizens who are hesitant about electronic paperless voting.The Verified Voting Foundation volunteers act as lobbyists, educators, and leaders who promote a secure voting environment by the means of paper voting with a tangible receipt for each vote. They do this by influencing election officials and civilians at every level of government to closely monitor elections in the United States. As well, the Verified Voting Foundation is in charge of a database that contains "voting system information" and "best practices"; this information about the electoral process and voting equipment is available to the public online. The role of the Verified Voting Foundation has expanded as various ballot mechanisms have emerged in the United States. The 2000 and 2016 Presidential elections have contributed to this foundation's role because citizens and officials were questioning voter security and ballot counts after both elections.


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