The internet lets you invest cautiously in the stock market or gamble away your savings, pay your council tax or book a holiday, socialise with friends or hide away with a movie. However you want to live your life, the internet supports you. And there’s not much you can’t do online – but you still can’t vote. Why is that?
Two-fifths of non-voters might actually vote, if only they could do it from the comfort of their favourite device. For the sake of voter turnout – and in the name of technological advancement – online voting seems like a no-brainer. In reality, things aren’t so easy.
In order for us to make online voting a possibility, the government first has to ignore or tackle the fact that every government electronic voting platform ever used so far has been hacked. Once that little hurdle is cleared, there’s also the issue of data privacy. How can the government make sure that people don’t vote twice; once in real life and once online? Should the government be able to keep track not only of if you voted, but who you voted for?
These are difficult questions, and we’ve already created ingenious low-tech solutions. In the UK you drop a marked piece of paper into a locked box. That box now has secure, anonymous data inside it. In Mexico, you dip your finger in ink so you can’t vote twice. In Gambia you drop a marble into a marked bucket with a bell, which means everyone can hear if you voted – or dinged – more than once. In Japan, you have to write down the name of your candidate to ensure you haven’t accidentally marked the wrong box.
These solutions all need to be replicated in the online world before we can hope to vote online, and that’s before we get to the technical issues behind-the-scenes. What if there was a server failure? What if data was lost or corrupted?
That’s where the second reason for our lack of online voting emerges – technical infrastructure. Even with all the security and backup solutions hypothetically sorted, the government would now need to implement an infrastructure that flawlessly allows the entire country to vote at the same time. That first wave of eager voters at exactly 12:00am could potentially knock out the servers, leaving everyone else unable to cast their vote. And, as we’ve covered, innocent technical issues could cause voting outcomes to change.
The government’s job is not one to be envied – responding to the increasing pace of new and exciting technology at the national level with perfect security, usability and reliability is no mean feat. For now, at least with voting, we’ll have to stick to pencil and paper.
If you’d like to know more about the public sector and new technology, join experts from UKFast, Secure Information Assurance (SIA) and Nine23 Ltd as they share their expertise in our latest webinar. We’ll also be talking to Luana Avagliano, Head of ResilienceDirect at the Cabinet Office, about managing critical digital transformation projects and delivering accelerated efficiency in the cloud.