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Threats and opportunities in e-voting and its suitability for election

RSA Blog
RSA Blog Europe Moldova

This blog was written for the RSA Blog Student Summer Series that will highlight graduate student success in regional studies across the globe throughout the summer.


How can we call ourselves a democracy if fewer and fewer people participate in elections? Everyone who seeks to understand today’s politics and tomorrow’s ought to be interested in it and news, we are going to be surprised by how much less involved they are. Democracy in Europe and the Republic of Moldova faces the disturbing challenge of how to get everyone to take part in their governing.


Electronic voting (also known as e-voting or EVM) refers to voting using electronic means either to aid or take care of the chores of casting and counting votes. Electronic voting is often seen as a tool for making the electoral process more efficient and for increasing trust in its management. Properly implemented, e-voting solutions can increase the security of the ballot, speed up the processing of results and make voting easier. However, the challenges are considerable. If not carefully planned and designed, e-voting can undermine the confidence in the whole electoral process.

According to the opinions of theorists and experts, contemporary civilization faces the electronic democracy era, based on employing information and communication tools into various fields of human life. One may thus state that democracy “supported” by modern technologies evolves and begins to function in a new reality, acquiring new dimensions. Referring to such an attitude, B.R. Barber introduces the notion of strong (powerful) democracy, and attributes to it a series of virtues – e.g. activeness, engagement, duty. Democracy enriched with electronic tools (electronic democracy, e-democracy) – e.g. electronic voting, may reinforce democracy.

The world is in the era of globalization. Information technology has greatly affected all aspects of life, and to a large extent, this includes politics. Internet communication technology advances rapidly, it not only connects people with people but links machines with machines as well as machines with humans. The idea behind developing an online voting system was to improve and speed up the process of the traditional way of voting. By providing a means of casting a ballot that is more flexible, and possibly more appealing, than traditional pencil-and-paper voting, online voting might not only induce more voters to participate in an election, but these potential shifts in the voting demographic could possibly result in a corresponding increase in the diversity of candidates elected.  The concept of e-voting should be embraced by the developing countries because of its advantages over the traditional manual voting system.

We would like to analyse what is “e-voting”? It is refers to the option of using electronic means to vote in election. There are systems such as DRE (Direct electronic recording) voting machines that record the vote without that vote being transmitted over the Internet or another network. E-voting as a term encompasses a broad range of voting systems that apply electronic elements in one or more steps of the electoral cycle. In conformity with the International IDEA Democracy Technologies in Europe, Report 2023, there is an ongoing discussion in many countries about e-voting and some kind of it is already widely used by society. Several countries are considering the introduction of remote online voting (e.g. Switzerland). A few countries have concluded the testing phase and introducing in local government referendum and recent English local election, using new voter ID scheme (e.g. France, the UK) or they have introduced it as a standard voting channel, Parliamentary elections in Estonia on 5th March 2023. For the first time since the online system was introduced 18 years ago, more Estonians cast their ballot electronically. (e.g. Estonia).  In my research we cannot recommend any particular type of e-voting to be used for national elections.

As about Moldova, it has all the basic preconditions for introducing Internet voting in the near future. The Electoral Code of the Republic of Moldova does not include specific provisions regulating Internet voting concepts, policies, rules, procedures, and relevant functioning and the management requirements for the Internet Voting Informational System. A new title on Internet voting shall be introduced in the Electoral Code and e-voting could be tested in the local elections (autumn, 2023). We believe that the new voter ID scheme can be a good pitch and example for Moldova. The Central Electoral Commission could also consider, if deemed necessary, to establish a separate Internet Voting Electoral Council (IVEC). Prior to the adoption of the amendments to the Electoral Cod, introducing specific Internet voting legislation, the opinions of the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR shall be consulted. To ensure modern, high quality, and secure elections the authority should present unique cybersecurity for online governmental services, as well as trust in tech.

To sum, all this suggests that both the extremely optimistic and pessimistic positions about the effects of voting systems are overstated. Modern electronic voting will not act as a panacea for the social causes responsible for electoral disengagement, nor will it remedy negative attitudes toward political entities. It will, however, increase voting opportunities for electors and make casting a vote more accessible. Moving forward, cost savings and the reduced CO2 footprint of online elections are strong arguments for future expansion, with improved transparency as a key factor. As well as, online voting seems to be an attractive option, might also have the potential to render elections more diverse.

Electronic voting overcomes the problem of geographic distribution of voters as well as vote administrators. It also reduces the chances of errors in the voting process. However, in order for electronic voting to replace conventional mechanisms, it must provide the whole range of features that conventional voting systems have.


Marina Gorbatiuc is a researcher and PhD candidate at the Institute for Legal, Political and Sociological Research in Chisinau, the Republic of Moldova.


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