Electronic Voting in the UK

E-voting for UK Government Elections

“Is ‘e-voting’ a viable and sustainable option to use for UK Government elections rather than the current paper-based system?

It seems that online voting for Government elections would present a straightforward solution to the problems many countries face with low voter turnout, manual errors in the physical counting of votes and relying on the postal system for overseas nationals.

Since the turn of the century, many highly advanced, populated countries have embraced e-voting. Most ******opean countries have since returned to paper ballot systems.

Remember the definition of e-voting is “the application of electronic technology to cast and count votes in an election”. Most countries utilise ‘on site’ voting with advanced identity verification processes. Remote e-voting is in a much earlier stage of development and testing. If you consider this in your report you need to be clear on the differences between the two voting systems.

You are required to carry out a small research project and produce a research report.

The purpose of your research project is to answer the following research question:

“Is ‘e-voting’ a viable and sustainable option to use for UK Government elections rather than the current paper-based system?”

Your report should consider whether e-voting would present a fair, secure, accessible and reliable system for the UK at the present time by weighing up the potential risks and benefits.

You will need to produce an assignment plan for the research project and report before you begin.

A copy of any surveys or questionnaires used and/or transcripts of interviews must be included to evidence that primary research has taken place. The outcomes from the primary research must be presented using graphs, charts and/or tables and these must be included in the report.

A Report on E-voting for UK Government Elections

Abstract

Upgrading electronics technology is quite challenging since they require careful planning and deliberation. The introduction of electronic voting in the UK government will be tricky since it covers essential areas of the electoral procedures, including counting and casting votes. This will aid in solving some problems experienced in the paper-based system though a new range of concerns will also be introduced. However, this report does not provide for the practical introduction of e-voting for the UK government; instead, it explains the reasons why e-voting should be used over the paper-based system to enhance a secure, fair, reliable, and accessible system at the current time in the UK by weighing potential benefits and risks. This report analyzes if e-voting is a viable and sustainable option for the UK government elections over the current paper-based system. A descriptive research design was used to support the study through surveys. Both qualitative and quantitative questionnaires were administered to obtain information from the respondents. Finally, the study provided recommendations that the UK government should analyze before and during the implementation of e-voting.  

1.0 Introduction

Electronic voting is more than a possibility but a reality. Many countries can be examples of using electronic ballots in both public and private elections (Achieng and Ruhode, 2013, 34). The potential of technology used during the process is exposed to various issues and challenges when launched nationwide due to large-scale implementation, which requires careful planning when introducing e-voting. The essential question during the planning phase is not the benefits of implementation but rather how effective and sustainable the system will be over the current election system, which is the central focus of this report. Electronic voting uses an electronic technique to count or cast votes (Rene, 2016). The approach of e-voting is quite simple since members of the public are already exposed to voting by the internet and phones in radios and television-based polls; hence electronic voting can be perceived as a logical extension of these activities

The introduction of e-voting within the UK government for election will require a practical evaluation of its benefits, impact, drawbacks, and the nature of accessibility by the general public. Due to the market segment where various e-voting occurs through internet voting and text massing, this proportion is likely to involve young people and others who are not likely to be involved in traditional political elections (Smith, 2016, 70). Therefore, e-voting can be perceived as having a broad public appeal and may significantly contribute to a robust electoral turnout. This report focuses on why electronic voting should be implemented within the UK government over the current paper-based system.

 2.0 Research Methodology

This section covers the techniques used to effectively carry out a study to enhance the validity and reliability of this report (McCombes, 2019). This report investigated whether e-voting should be used in the UK government elections or stick to the current paper-based system.

2.1 Research design

This study used a descriptive research design to support and facilitate the success of the research. A descriptive research design is a theory-based technique used when the researcher is interested in the topic description of the research subject. A survey research design was used to ensure that all the information for the study was obtained. According to Mursi et al. (2013, 23), Surveys provide broad coverage of the sample population, are less costly, have appropriate statistical significance due to sample representation, and have precise results due to careful standardization and scrutinization.

2.2 Data collection methods

Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to obtain information from the respondents. The methods gave respondents ample time to attend to the questionnaires independently since they were delivered through the drop-and-pick strategy.

2.3 Data Analysis and Presentation

Data obtained from the respondents were analyzed and presented in tables and pie charts for quick and easy understanding by both the readers and the audience. Tables and pie charts were used since they are simple to read and understand at a glance. The methods also provide quick and easy data interpretation avenues.

3.0 Findings and discussion of the results

This section of the report demonstrates the results obtained from the respondents after analysis of whether e-voting is more viable than a paper-based system in the UK Government. The study covered several issues, including stakeholders, public attitudes, a review of the existing experience, the local authority’s capacity, legal issues, and technological options. 

3.1 Why Electronic Voting

The concept of e-voting seems quite simple, though, from the findings of the results, we can assume that the implementation phase of the system is more complex. Due to the potential cost of implementing and using electronic voting, the problem should be identified clearly (Hanifatunnisa and Rahardjo, 2017, 4). The results of the findings state that adequately identifying what the system will help the government overcome is the only basis to enhance the effective implementation of e-voting. Additionally, the results state that the main reasons for the e-voting system are the urge for modernization and the issue of declining turnout.

These two factors illustrate why the UK government should adopt an e-voting system rather than the current one. Therefore, this presents a sufficient reason why and how the new system should be introduced. After realizing these two factors and the need for e-voting, the next course of action was to explain the problems surrounding the current election system: a paper-based system and robust solutions that electronic voting will bring the whole voting process.    

3.2 The issue of declining turnout

The declining and low turnout crisis in national and local elections has been documented. From the results of the findings, it can be demonstrated that the government is somehow still complacent about the substantial problem of the decline in election turnout. An assumption can be made that the reason behind the fall in electoral participation lies in civic disengagement, which has not been addressed as a crisis that demands an appropriate response. Yet, political life usually continues without notice of what has happened. Regarding the robust declining voter turnout, implementing an innovative voting procedure will offer a solution to the crisis. The findings showed that postal voting gained much success where the deemed postal ballots increased with more than half of the total number of voters. Therefore, launching e-voting within the UK government elections will improve the success since it will build more convenience within the voting process.

            The findings indicate that the government has not taken the initiative to emphasize electronic methods in voting. The government has failed in its duty to what the public needs; thus, the need for e-voting will significantly impact the UK government’s election. Migrating from the current election system to e-voting will be more viable if the leading cause of declining turnout is time poverty resulting from inaccessible and inconvenient polling procedures. Other factors such as party identification, political interest, and political knowledge can also influence UK non-voting (Shat and Abbott, 2017, 225). They can also explain voter turnout since polling stations are still considered to be near homes despite busy people’s busy schedules; hence, they are still considered by most citizens to be more convenient. However, implementing e-voting in the UK will be more viable since it will eliminate the cost of traveling to the polling stations. Citizens will be able to vote in the comfort of their own homes despite their busy schedules conveniently.

 3.3 Desire for Modernization

From the study’s findings, most respondents perceived that the UK government needs to be more innovative by adopting the current technology in conducting elections within the country.  According to Alomari (2016, 23), the government must migrate from the current paper-based system to an electronic one. It is more flexible and convenient because people can vote from anywhere without traveling the polling stations to vote for their candidates. Additionally, the results indicated that for democracy to be modernized, policymakers and the public must ensure that electronic voting is incorporated within the electoral process. However, others argued that e-voting would reduce voting to a similar level, just like normal activities such as shopping and banking, then elevating the process as a unique, separate, and essential civic engagement activity.

An assumption can be made that, from the perspective of lowering voting to ordinary events, the long-term implementation of e-voting will lead to a continuous reduction of civic engagement than enhancing it (Korn and Voida, 2015, 148)

. However, cognitive engagement concerns with political procedures should not be ignored when launching e-voting. In seeking to modernize election procedures, many emphases should be laid on how the election process will be unique as the primary democratic act of engagement and to promote uniqueness than undermining it.

 3.4 Compound Dilemmas and Solutions

Modernization and the problem of declining turnout have been the central argument for e-voting. However, they are not convincing reasons why the UK government should invest its financial resources in the implementation. The primary reason why the government should abandon the current election system is compounded due to arcane, cumbersome, and inefficient electoral procedures, which may hinder the outside usage of the voting system of periodic elections (Hardwick et al., 2018, 1567.  Additionally, there have been few fraud cases with the current election system in the UK, meaning the system has a low level of security. It can facilitate personification and other frequent abuse. Therefore, a paper-based election system is not much convenient or somewhat effective for public voting. The introduction of electronic voting in the UK has potential value creation within the electoral process, which might accompany everything from electoral law review to changes in voting procedures in various elections. Implementing new technology within the electoral system will allow the voting practice to be more flexible and efficient by providing a wide range of reform opportunities.

3.5 Potential for e-voting

This section will cover the potential for e-voting uptake by the UK government. The initial examination began with effective investigations on the public demand for a different range of e-voting and the likelihood of its uptake based on the analysis. It was conducted through the help of qualitative and quantitative methods through the help of different surveys and evidence from other secondary sources. The findings indicated that popular demand and expectations matched the actual penetration of various technologies across the UK to analyze the citizens’ anticipated ability to acknowledge the significance of electronic voting (Wang et al., 2017, 35). From this analysis, this section also presents the organizational capabilities of the local government to launch e-voting. The analysis was based on the respondents’ findings on the local authorities for the study’s success. A conclusion can be drawn that this section demonstrates implications for introducing e-voting in several forms. This section of this report covers the primary use of the electronic voting technique. There was no exclusion of other relevant electronic voting forms though focusing on RVEM was to analyze whether it can enhance convenient voting through electronic techniques to improve the voting experience of most citizens. The following surveys demonstrate the potential for electronic voting in the UK.

3.5.1 Activities that can be conducted electronically  

From the survey conducted on specific activities to be used electronically, around forty-four percent of the total sample population would use internet access to conduct e-voting. This indicates that people with access to and experience in information and communication technology must vote through e-voting instead of those with limited experience and access (Alvarez, Levin, and Li, 2018, 100). This raised questions about who should benefit from electronic voting. BMRB International provides data and substantive understanding of people who have accessed and adopted technology for voting reasons. Additionally, the internet monitor questions were exposed to internet users between the ages of fifteen and whether they would be willing to use technology in local elections. However, the age bracket does not allow them to vote their opinion, and views are still essential to the general investigation of e-voting.

 3.5.2 utilization of the internet for voting

The results of these findings from this survey were quite impressive. First, the results indicated that most internet users would vote through the internet than they would engage in playing the national lottery; hence most people trust internet voting with their votes (Germann and Serdult, 2017, 5). Second, there was a notice on the time difference voting period within the year. There is a difference in comparison with the first outcome, with an increase of one percent of people using technology to play the national lottery. However, this indicates that most people in the UK support using technology in elections.

Additionally, from the aspect of the BMRB monitor, the most substantial supporters of internet voting are adolescent users. Moreover, individuals using e-banking represented around sixty-two percent who can support electronic voting than people who use it for browsing reasons (Madise and Vinkel, 2014, 55). From this evidence, an assumption can be made that most voters have confidence in e-voting due to their interactive experience with technologies, thus encouraging more support for potential electronic voting. 

3.6 Technological penetration

 From the analysis of the findings, the public is among the cognitive and conceptual constraints of electronic voting, among other constraints. The essential constraint is access to e-voting by different groups that differ in technology (Khan, Arshad, and Khan, 2020, 15). Technological availability and widespread across the country will narrowly focus on the demographic groups that affect the opportunity to implement e-voting. The main deferential issues can be illustrated in two major categories. First, the difference in technological access affects individual voting opportunities through the new means. Implementation based on technology being the only available option in certain demographic groups will disproportionately affect these groups.

Second, emphasis on technological influence on the ability of an individual to have the capacity or confidence to use them. This was a drawback of implementing e-voting since people with no idea and experience in technology will not effectively adopt the new way of elections within the country (Alvarez et al., 2013, 117). However, the results indicate that most UK people have phones and can operate them in text messages, which indicates they are technologically uptight. This supports the launching of e-voting since everyone can vote using their phones, enabling the government to save on costs and conduct elections using a paper-based system (Mohammed and Timour, 2013, 24). Besides cost and time saving, using technology in voting will enable the government to be technologically ahead of other countries. Also, it will increase flexibility in handling elections within the scheduled period.

3.7 Public Attitudes

From the survey carried out on the sample population, the findings measured against reflective opinions through qualitative research methods indicated that public support is a contributing factor towards the reason’s implementation of e-voting. Most people argue that the distinction between non-voters and voters is marked around civic duty, where voters feel and understand their democratic rights than the aspect of convenience (Holbein and Hillygus, 2020, char 1). On the other hand, some non-voters expressed their opinion of turnout as the inconvenience of the current election system and the public apathy when elections are conducted.  Non-voters presented the following reasons why they do not vote—first, inadequate information on voting. Second, mistrust of politicians, where politicians are only concerned about the citizens during election times, and lastly, citizens feel that their votes had no impact on the outcome (Laponce, 2019, 32). This was assumption made by the non-voters. However, they believed that e-voting would be more flexible. They will support it since it will help prevent fraud issues during elections instead of the current system, which is highly prone to insecurity issues.

4.0 Conclusion

Introducing electronic voting into the UK government elections can bring more advantages to the electoral body within the country than the current election system. On the other hand, the new technology in voting will increase voters’ convenience and improve the flexibility and robustness of elections. This will be achieved by making the election organization process more efficient and superficial, thus a compelling justification for e-voting implementation. Electronic voting solves problems such as declining voter turnout and modernization. From the study’s findings, implementations of e-voting will address this issue in different ways, such as time reduction for busy individuals who have no time to travel to polling stations to vote, and using technology and abandoning the current method will drive the country into the modern world.

  Elections will be modernized through electronic elections, which will significantly appeal to several voters. For these reasons, electronic voting offers more advantages than paper-based or conventional election methods. However, implementing electronic voting may appear simple at a glance though it is pretty complex. It is exposed to many barriers the government must overcome and other complexities that need effective decision-making and planning. Despite the need for this action to be addressed, e-voting will greatly help the UK as a country since the migration to e-voting will likewise reduce the cost and time of conducting elections and improve the general performance of the electoral body within the country. Quick election feedback will be enhanced, and delays in paperwork will be eliminated since everything will be handled digitally without going the paper-based way.

Therefore, emphasis should be laid at the heart of every implementation to enhance fairness and freedom during the elections. This indicates that the introduction of e-voting should promote democracy at all levels. Inevitably, trade-offs between convivence and security during the implementation should not compromise essential fundamental principles that might underpin the UK democracy. This report has provided an in-depth understanding of why the UK government should introduce an e-voting system within the electoral process to enhance flexible, convenient, and sustainable elections within the country.  Moreover, it has also demonstrated all the issues that e-voting will solve and the implementation considerations the government should analyze before they venture into this project. This will enable policy and decision-makers to effectively protect democratic principles when introducing e-voting to strike a correct balance.

Even though some people did not support the introduction of e-voting since it would dilute the essence of voting as part of the usual activities, it still had more implementation support. Thereby, the UK should adopt e-voting, as evidenced by the study’s findings, because the pros of the new technology are more than the cons compared with paper-based election methods.  Therefore, adopting e-voting will not harm the government or provide more opportunities and innovative ways to embrace technology.

5.0 Recommendations

The introduction of e-voting requires effective planning before the implementation phase. I want to make the following recommendations regarding e-voting illustrated in this report.

  • Public education should be conducted before the implementation of e-voting. This will equip the citizens with the necessary knowledge to go about the voting process using advanced technology.
  • I would recommend that upon implementation of the e-voting, the system should have a support system with open source code for adequate verification of candidates and agents who have attained approval by the elections commission (Tarasov and Tewari, 2017, 2). This will help in winning public confidence and maintaining ballot integrity.
  • The UK government should review the laws and regulations regarding e-voting before introducing it within the election processes. This will help incompatibility with technological capabilities and twenty-first-century practices.
  • Risk analysis of introducing electronic voting should focus on the technical features and address public confidence and satisfaction. Citizens should be assured of the security of e-voting and doubt of abuse by a third party.
  • The UK government should ensure that e-voting is based on choice and flexibility, especially when using remote methods. This will ensure that voters are not restricted to a single method but have varied methods to choose which voting method best suits their preferences and lifestyle.

 References

Achieng, M. and Ruhode, E., 2013. The adoption and challenges of electronic voting technologies within the South African context. arXiv preprint arXiv:1312.2406.

Alomari, M.K., 2016. E-voting adoption in a developing country. Transforming Government: People, Process, and Policy.

Alvarez, R.M., Levin, I. and Li, Y., 2018. Fraud, convenience, and e-voting: how voting experience shapes opinions about voting technology. Journal of Information Technology & Politics15(2), pp.94-105.

Alvarez, R.M., Levin, I., Pomares, J. and Leiras, M., 2013. Voting made safe and easy: The impact of e-voting on citizen perceptions—Political Science Research and Methods1(1), p.117.

Germann, M. and Serdült, U., 2017. Internet voting and turnout: Evidence from Switzerland. Electoral Studies47, pp.1-12.

Hanifatunnisa, R. and Rahardjo, B., 2017, October. Blockchain-based e-voting recording system design. In 2017 11th International Conference on Telecommunication Systems Services and Applications (TSSA) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.

Hardwick, F.S., Gioulis, A., Akram, R.N. and Markantonakis, K., 2018, July. E-voting with blockchain: An e-voting protocol with decentralization and voter privacy. In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Internet of Things (iThings) and IEEE Green Computing and Communications (GreenCom) and IEEE Cyber, Physical and Social Computing (CPSCom) and IEEE Smart Data (SmartData) (pp. 1561-1567). IEEE.

Holbein, J.B. and Hillygus, D.S., 2020. Making young voters: Converting civic attitudes into civic action. Cambridge University Press.

Khan, K.M., Arshad, J. and Khan, M.M., 2020. Investigating performance constraints for a blockchain-based secure e-voting system. Future Generation Computer Systems105, pp.13-26.

Korn, M. and Voida, A., 2015, August. Creating friction: Infrastructuring civic engagement in everyday life. In Proceedings of The Fifth Decennial Aarhus Conference on Critical Alternatives (pp. 145-156).

Lance, J.A., 2019. 3/Voters and Non-Participants. In People versus Politics (pp. 31-45). University of Toronto Press.

Madise, Ü. and Vinkel, P., 2014. Internet voting in Estonia: from constitutional debate to an evaluation of experience over six elections. In Regulating technologies in the European Union (pp. 53-72). Springer, Cham.

McCombes, S., 2019. How to Write a Research Methodology in Four Steps. [online] Scribbr. Available at: https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/methodology/ [Accessed 6 May 2021].

Mohammed, A.A. and Timour, R.A., 2013. Efficient e-voting android-based system. International journal of advanced research in computer science and software engineering3(11).

Mursi, M.F., Assassa, G.M., Abdelhafez, A. and Samra, K.M.A., 2013. On the development of electronic voting: a survey. International Journal of Computer Applications61(16).

Rene, P., 2016. Electronic voting. [online] Encyclopedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/electronic-voting [Accessed 6 May 2021].

Shat, F.J., and Abbott, P., 2017. The main factors are affecting e-voting service implementation: the case of Palestine. In Complexity in Information Systems Development (pp. 221-236). Springer, Cham.

Smith, R., 2016. Confidence in paper-based and electronic voting channels: evidence from Australia. Australian Journal of Political Science51(1), pp.68-85.

Tarasov, P. and Tewari, H., 2017. THE FUTURE OF E-VOTING. IADIS International Journal on Computer Science & Information Systems12(2).

Wang, K.H., Mondal, S.K., Chan, K. and Xie, X., 2017. A review of contemporary e-voting: Requirements, technology, systems, and usability. Data Science and Pattern Recognition1(1), pp.31-47.

Appendices

  1. Question With the help of a scale of 1 to 5 where 1=strongly disagree, 2= Disagree, 3= Neither agree nor disagree, 4= Agree, and 5= strongly agree. Kindly answer the following questions. Your answers will be treated with confidence and used for academic purposes only.
Strongly Agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree
1.      To what extent do you agree e-voting will be more beneficial in election processes?
2.      To what degree do you feel that e-voting will address modernization and declining turnover?
3.      To what extend do you agree that a paper-based election system should be abandoned?
4.      Do you agree that you have used internet voting in others areas apart from political elections?

 

  1. Question
    1. In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of e-voting over a paper-based election system……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..?
    2. Will technology affect the implementation of e-voting? If yes, explain your answer……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
  • From a personal view, what are some of the main reasons for voters turnover?………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..