DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AN ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINE. A RESEARCH PROJECT MATERIAL ON COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION
1.1 Background of the Study
Democracy has become generally accepted as the best form of government. One key factor for this international acceptance of democratic governance is the degree of power given to the citizenry in deciding the affairs of the state such as electing their leader, referendum and public polls.
At the dawn of the third millennium, countries and states globally, are exploring new frontiers by attempting to connect with their citizens through novel technologies. In relation to technological progress, exploring methods of increasing involvement in democracy and sovereign institutions has taken centre stage, as electronic participation channels present a bidirectional communication gateway between the “people” and their elected representation. Recognizing the benefits offered by electronic solutions, political parties are recruiting web 2.0 information systems, including social communication networks (such as Face book and Twitter) to mobilize their core supporter groups and attract a younger audience, hoping to alleviate the low voter turnout problems, by demonstrating a versatile and more progressive profile. In these years, numerous information policies and instruments have made electronic governments a global reality. Since their initial introduction, electronic government services have been continuously maturing and evolving in availability and sophistication. Progressively, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are being introduced into various aspects of the electoral process. It is now a common fact; that back-end computers are already an integral part of almost all elections held internationally. Even in countries not officially exploring electronic voting implementations, back end computer systems baare most possibly introduced at some stage of the electoral process, either for llot counting or for voter list generation. Voter registration databases are now automated, ballots are cast into computer based equipment in an ever increasing number, and end of day results are often calculated and transmitted electronically between municipal headquarters and to the media. These back-end “uncertified” computers may hold more dangers than an efficiently designed and protected electronic voting system. History shows that electronic voting cannot be stopped in our technically oriented society, where an increasing number of processes are mapped into the electronic world and voters become more and more mobile (Melanie, 2009). It is becoming apparent that the basic question no longer focuses on whether ICT should be accepted in the electoral process, but rather on what kind of technology should be implemented and to what extent.
Electronic voting system (also known as e-voting system) denotes a voting system where the verification, authentication, actual voting and tallying of votes in a political election or referendum employs the use of electronic technology (Schwenk, 2001). E-voting technology includes: punched cards, optical scan voting system, direct recording equipment (DRE), specialized voting kiosks, stand-alone voting kiosks. It can also involve the transmission of ballots and votes via telephone, private computer network or the internet. In generally two main types of e-voting system can be identified (LeBlanc 2002).
- E-voting system which is physically supervised by representatives of election management body (EMB). DRE, stand-alone-voting kiosks all fall into this category.
- Remote e-voting via the internet (also known as I-voting) where the voter cast his vote without going to the polling station.