How devices transform voting


Pieters, Wolter (2010) How devices transform voting. In: Simone van der Hof & Marga M. Groothuis (Eds.), Innovating Government. Normative, policy and technological dimensions of modern government. Information Technology and Law Series, 20 . T.M.C. Asser Press, The Hague. ISBN 9789067047302

[img] PDF
Restricted to UT campus only

Abstract:Several European countries have been involved in the implementation of electronic forms of voting in elections. This may include electronic voting machines at polling stations, Internet voting, or both. In the former, the registration and counting of the votes is done electronically, but authentication of the voter and the protection of the secrecy of the ballot still depend on traditional means. In the latter, voting is done remotely from any computer, and the polling station is abolished as protective space.

To allow observation of the elections (Vollan, 2006), it is deemed essential that the voting procedure be verifiable. From a technical perspective, the combination of voter anonymity and verifiability is challenging. However, even if a satisfactory technical solution were found, electronic forms of voting challenge the democratic process in other ways. Whereas technology once had the reputation of contributing to explicit goals in an instrumental way, philosophers have now realised that it also changes our experience and existence in ways that had not been intended. Moreover, many requirements of procedures to be automated are implicit, and the automated versions may thereby “act” differently.

In this contribution, we analyse how electronic voting shapes democratic forms of voting from the perspective of technological mediation. First of all, we introduce the requirements that are generally accepted to apply to the voting process. We then zoom in on the history of electronic voting in the Netherlands, explain how the country finally abolished electronic voting, and recast the problems encountered in terms of implicit requirements. We then generalise the notion of implicit requirements to include broader forms of changes in human experience and existence, by referring to the philosophical work on technological mediation. Applying this theory to electronic voting, especially Internet voting, we identify challenges that we need to face, should electronic voting come back on the political agenda.
Item Type:Book Section
Additional information:This chapter is based on the author’s PhD thesis La volonté machinale: understanding the electronic voting controversy, written at Radboud University Nijmegen (Pieters, 2008).
Copyright:© T.M.C. Asser Instituut
Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS)
Research Group:
Link to this item:
Official URL:
Export this item as:BibTeX
HTML Citation
Reference Manager


Repository Staff Only: item control page