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The Internet Government Politics

The World's First National Internet Election 297

InternetVoting writes "Expanding on the limited 2005 Internet voting pilot successes, the small European nation of Estonia will become the first country to allow voting in a national parliamentary election via the Internet. Fresh off the news of France's successful primary election using Internet voting and the announcement of 12 new UK election pilots, is Europe leaving the U.S. behind?"
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The World's First National Internet Election

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  • Well.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:06PM (#18103698)
    As soon as "internet voting" has been reviewed to see how well a rigged election can be performed, the U.S will switch, too.
    • Re:Well.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:22PM (#18103854) Homepage
      As soon as "internet voting" has been reviewed to see how well a rigged election can be performed, the U.S will switch, too.

      I'm not sure which is worse:
      a) a general election using faulty touch screens, or
      b) a "secure" online election, but voting is easy enough that we have 90% turnout... which includes the 45% of the population that has absolutely no clue about anything to do with the election, and vote based on whatever (mis)information they read on a blog that morning.
      • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ChameleonDave ( 1041178 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:58PM (#18104060) Homepage

        No. When people don't vote, it is not usually because they know so little about politics that they don't know who to vote for, but rather because they know so much about politics that they know there is nobody to vote for.

        I have never voted. No party respects the values of equality, freedom and democracy that I have.

        If all the non-voters came out, they would boost the slightly-progressive vote considerably, and perhaps prevent the worst excesses of the craziest parties.

        • Re:Well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @09:07PM (#18104128) Homepage
          I have never voted. No party respects the values of equality, freedom and democracy that I have.

          That brings up a good point. If there were an "abstain" column, then you could show your interest in politics by participating, but also show your disdain for the available candidates, by choosing neither of them.

          If it is the case that a large portion of America doesn't vote because they don't like the choices, this would be an interesting way to track that.
          • Can't you vote blank in the US? They always count the blank votes in Danish elections. Of course, they are always paper ballots. Paper ballots works fine, nobody even discuss the option of using anything else.
            • Re:Vote blank (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Virtual_Raider ( 52165 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @11:31PM (#18105164)

              Surely there must be a way for you to vote for "none of the above" as Per Abrahamsen says. For example in Mexico you can cross out the whole ballot to make your vote null. It is still counted but it's not alloted to anybody. And it is usually a good measure of protest. High intentionally nullified vote count is always given a lot of air time and puts pressure on the government to take some corrective actions.

              The problem I see with this is that they just know you are not happy, but there is no other mechanism to provide feedback as to what are you actually upset about. Best way is always to get involved. Support those that most closely resemble our values (in the real world nobody will ever match our values 100%), or if they are truly appalling, start our own, join one and change it from inside, etc. Inaction only gives the fascists currently in power to continue turning the US in a police state and that is bad for you and bad for the rest of the world given the USA's power and penchant for meddling in other people's affairs :P

              I'm not trolling, if somebody disagrees please reply, don't just mod me down =P

              • by finity ( 535067 )
                Awesome comment. I wish we had a system like that here in the US, but as far as I know that doesn't exist (at least not in Kansas).
            • by Agripa ( 139780 )
              It would be better to mark an invalid vote to prevent someone from marking the ballot with a valid choice. Spoiled ballots are not reported that I know of. One could always vote for a third party as a protest (Duverger's Law and all of that) but they are not always counted.
            • Oddly enough, Los Angeles does use paper ballots. They are marked with a special pen and counted using a modified punchcard reader (the ballots are the same size and shape as the old IBM punchcards that were made famous in Florida).

              Blank votes (known as "undervotes") are recognized and counted as such. An entirely blank ballot is processed as-is, and generates an "undervote" for each election contest.

              The undervote rate varies -- typically it is around 1% for major contests, but much higher for minor ones, e
          • It might sound like an interesting way to track that, except for the fact that no one is going to show up to check a "I'd rather be at home" box.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Uhhhh, maybe in america and other countries that don't have compulsary voting (TFA is not about america). But here in Australia, it's mandatory to vote; an "I'd rather be at home" box might be a good thing here.
          • by zsau ( 266209 )
            Or, stand as an Independent. The best time to do this is at a special election when an incumbent is leaving before a regular election. The second-best time to do this is at a regular election when the incumbent is retiring/leaving. Keep your eyes out for when this will happen, make sure people know you want to be elected and why, and get yourself elected. (You might need to stand a few times expecting to lose to get your profile out there; don't try to be elected, just try to get a few mentions in a local n
          • I do this every election cycle. I take my ballot, vote on all of the bills, and vote for none of the candidates.
        • Awesome logic. Instead of choosing the lesser of two evils, you're content to let others choose for you. Don't ever let anyone accuse you of being a great thinker.
        • I have never voted. No party respects the values of equality, freedom and democracy that I have.

          Then organize your own party. Run for an election. Prove that you have something worthwhile to offer. But forgive me for suspecting that you are altogether too prissy to survive in the down-and-dirty world of politics and compromise.

          If all the non-voters came out, they would boost the slightly-progressive vote considerably, and perhaps prevent the worst excesses of the craziest parties.

          The ever-elusive "si

        • There's like nine unwarranted and completely unsupported assumptions in your post.
      • Re:Well.. (Score:4, Funny)

        by darkpixel2k ( 623900 ) <aaron@heyaaron.com> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @09:37PM (#18104384) Homepage
        is Europe leaving the U.S. behind?

        They will be leaving the US behind...right up until their "secure" internet election elects "That goatse guy"...
        • by Hooya ( 518216 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @11:19PM (#18105072) Homepage
          The next president of Estonia ... Steven Colbert!

          They guy got his name at the top of the list for a bridge somewhere. Named a team mascot somewhere 'Cobeagle The Eagle' or some such. Why? Presidency is the next logical step! He is quite well versed in addressing 'the nation'. And this is the perfect opportunity. He has got to be planning this in his secret lair somewhere.

      • That is absolutely right. I might not agree with the person behind me in line at the polls, but at least I know that they had the political savvy to A) know what day the polls were open, B) find the polls, and C) actually vote. If actually getting to the polls poses a problem then in most areas you can vote from the comfort of your own home with just a bit of planning and foresight. If this is too much of an obstacle then I honestly don't think that your vote should count as much as mine does. I am tota

    • The whole idea of parliments is very outdated. It came about because communications were bad, so your village/town etc sent a representative to the parliment so that the issues of your region could be dealt with.

      We no longer have those communications restrictions. With TV, www etc, you can find out everything you want to know about pretty much any issue immediately. So, why have representatives and parliments?

      Instead of voting in representatives, why not just have an online referendum for every law change

      • by 0123456789 ( 467085 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @09:22PM (#18104230)
        Instead of voting in representatives, why not just have an online referendum for every law change etc?

        A really, really bad idea. It's called mob rule, or the tyranny of the majority. Unpopular, difficult decisions are (occasionally) made by governments. For example, in the US, the civil rights reform in the 60s.

        Plus government funding would end up solely going to the most populous areas. Government services, on the other hand, generally cost more in rural, rather than urban, areas (for example, rubbish collection is cheaper in a city, where the truck has to go less distance between pick ups, than in remote locations).

        Of course, the status quo is hardly nirvana either...

      • In a rational world, that would be wonderfully democratic. The problem is inertia.
        In the US, at least, the Democrats and Republicans have come to rely on each other. One doesn't get into power on its own merits, but rather when the other messes up badly enough that the voters (apparently with short memories) think they'll do a better job.

        To implement that system would put most of those "public servants" out of jobs, and that's the one thing that both parties can agree to NOT let happen.
      • by c_forq ( 924234 ) <forquerc+slash@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @10:14PM (#18104672)
        At least in America, the representational system was put in place not due to communications, but from fear of the problems with direct democracy. Under this system it is much easier to go to war, as if everyone gets hot tempered about Canada they can accelerate things with pretty much no checks. Also in this system you are unable to enact positive yet possibly unpopular policy (like freeing slaves, desegregating schools, allowing women to vote, etc.) If you've ever seen the amount of minute tax increases to increase local school funds turned down you would also know the government would have a nightmarish time raising funds. More democratic does not mean better, this is why there are pretty much no democracies in the world anymore.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by melikamp ( 631205 )

          This should be modded informative.

          I am feeling chattery tonight. The reasons you give are the ones that are usually given, but I am not convinced by them. One thing is for sure though: not only there are no direct democracies anymore, there hardly has ever been any, so we really have nothing to compare with.

          it is much easier to go to war

          USA, for example, has a very thick dossier [wikipedia.org]. Soviet Union, one of the least democratic countries out there, was a huge fan of a military action as well. Chinese states w

          • by c_forq ( 924234 )
            In Europe there were a few direct democracies (albeit only white, non-Jewish, land owning males could participate). As for wars, it is not having a republic or some democracy that prevents it, but having bureaucracy slows down the process and prevents some wars. There have been many times a majority of the U.S. wanted to go to war with Britain, France, and Spain, but after independence that only really happened with the war of 1812 and our invasion of Cuba (which was a Spanish colony at the time). As for
      • I think that parliaments were set up by the elite because they wanted to be in control and had an ability.

        As for your proposal, it would indeed make any existing country more democratic; but few (if any) countries were founded as true democracies. Many have some degree of democratic participation, but it is widely believed, among us serfs as well as among the elite, that a direct unbridled democracy is about as good of a way to govern as setting the whole country on fire. I, personally, think that it is w

        • True direct democracy was proposed at least since Plato (Republic)

          Plato? Democratic?

          Plato's Republic rests in the hands of a philosopher-king who alone has the insight and understanding to rule.

          The entire structure of the state is designed to insure that his authority and that of the governing elite can never be effectively questioned.

          • You are right, and I am confused here. It is not Republic, but could swear it is Plato. I remember something about an ideal city state... You may not care, but I will come back on that. Elsewhere, he describes an ideal city state with direct democracy and citizens who have to be farmers, the whole shebang.

      • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @11:15PM (#18105060) Homepage
        What you describe is "direct democracy". They had that in Athen. It has all kind of fun effects, like first executing the homecoming officers for leaving their dead beind after a lost battle, then, after realizing that was a bad idea, executing the people who ordered the executions. Or executing one of the worlds greatest philosophers (Socrates) for being a stubborn pain in the ass.

        The idea behind representative democracy is to avoid the "heat of the movement" decisions. In fact, the major problem with representative democracy these days, is that with the constant polling and professional politicians who adjust their views to follow the vims of the (voting part of) the population, we are getting closer to direct democracy. Representative democracy works best when politicians actually stand for something.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          To sum up all of the above posters: direct democracy is bad because sometimes people don't vote the way we want them to. Those special decisions (which are usually the ones that really matter) can never be trusted to the people - oh no, that would be "mob rule"! And of course the 2000-year-old example of Athens, a very different society from what we have today, is absolutely convincing of the fact that direct democracy does not work right.

          Guys, in case you haven't noticed - history has shown that represen

        • by gkhan1 ( 886823 )
          Socrates was executed by a jury, just like American trials use today. Granted, it was a large jury (501 people) who sentenced using a majority-vote system, but it was still a jury. He was accused, found guilty of, and executed for "corrupting the youth of Athens" (the real reason was, as you say, that he was a pain in the ass to some very rich and easily offended people). I agree with your general point, but that was a bad example.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by rozz ( 766975 )

          Representative democracy works best when politicians actually stand for something.

          i guess you wanted to say "..stand for something GOOD". If they stand for corruption and their own pockets, it doesnt really work.

          in the end, it comes down to the quality of the people, the system does not matter that much ... representative democracy is only better than direct democracy if you elect the right people ... in fact, even a totalitary regime can be just as good if done by the right people... the only inherent advantage of democracy is that it's better suited for the long run.

          but anyway...

      • There's a hell of a lot of utterly clueless responses to your post, and only one somewhat insightful one. I'm surprised that so few people seem to understand the real problem with your idea. And the real problem? People only care about issues which affect them directly, and even then, they only bother doing something about them when they become a problem.

        A good example of this is the creationism vs evolution debate as concerning the US school system. I can't remember which state it was, but they, a whil
      • With TV, www etc, you can find out everything you want to know about pretty much any issue immediately. So, why have representatives and parliments?

        There is something to be said for distance and perspective, knowledge and experience. There is in the American political system an elemental distrust of the mob. Capricious, irresponsible, living in the moment.

      • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @05:48AM (#18106974) Homepage

        Instead of voting in representatives, why not just have an online referendum for every law change etc?


        It's called direct democracy.

        And it's already the case in Switzerland. By law an change in the constitution must be approved by a referendum. Any law proposed by the public (a public initiative with enough signarutes) must also undergo mandatory referendum. Same goes for any international treaties (when Switzerland accept some treaty it's not in fact the country but the actual swiss population !). And any petition that collects enough signature can ask any other proposed law to undergo referendum, which happens almost always. Thus almost no law haven't been voted before being applied.

        Although that sometimes people aren't interested about the vote, there's always at least one third of the population that participate in any vote (that's still a much more important and more representative part of the population than any assembly), and much more citizens get involved in more important votes (up to two third approximately. There's always a third that don't give a damn shit about what's happening and accept whatever the other want).

        And unlike other /.s fear, with enough quality information, even unpopular laws get passed. The Swiss people, for exemple *HAS* voted for increasing taxes (like the introduction of VAT) *HAS* voted for spending money on international help (several help problem in eastern europe ; also contributing to the EU even if not an actual member of it), not to speak other things mentioned in this thread (like granting vote-right to women : the historical initial Landsgemeinde - a vote by rasing hand - was reserved to men). Even some communities, after referendum, has granted voting-rights to strangers for community's related referenda.

        And the fact that we constantly vote (each few months) has three results :
        - The population isn't fed up with voting. In fact at least one third of the population is getting used to the idea of always, no matter what, giving its opinion on the voted law.
        - Being used to give its opinion makes that the population more often votes according its opinion of the law. The votes aren't used as ad hominem attacks to express disagreement with the politicians that are proponents of them (unlike what happened in France where the EU constitution was also partly refused because people disliked the politicians that encouraged the pro-EU vote, and note only because of the content).
        - In the USA because the biggest part of the population contribution to politics are election and they only happen seldom, the different parties pile up a lot of money and then deploy campaign that start to look as marketing. In Switzerland nobody could afford spending that much money every couple of month and therefore, most of the information the public has comes from debates, from (non-paid-for by the government) journalists' articles, experts on the subject (economists / scientist / or whatever is related to the subject of the law being voted) from both camps give opinions, etc. Therefore the population tends to vote being more informed as enticed by ads, and end up accepting difficult decisions, fully knowingly the implications.

        The only difference with what you said is that we don't use internet that much for voting (except for some pilot projects). Only as an information medium.
        Voting is still mainly done by dropping an envelope in an urn, or by mail. But there are active development done to introduce e-voting in order to facilitate the voting procedure and attract a higher participation)
  • If everybody else is doing it than it must be safe and we should jump off of the bridge to. Didn't most of us outgrow this?
    • Not too many people that jump off bridges end up safe. They usually end up scraped.
    • by TeraCo ( 410407 )
      Yes, but likewise you don't just disregard something out of hand because 'everyone is doing it'. Adults tend to look at the pros and cons before assessing anything. What are your specific objections to internet voting, Mr Cheyney?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Garridan ( 597129 )
        • Succeptability to man in the middle attacks.
        • Network outages / succeptability to DDoS attacks.
        • Possibility of ISP censorship of votes.
        In a paper-ballot election, it takes a lot of effort from a number of people (usually at least one insider) to fake a win. With electronic voting, a single person can do the job.
        • You raise valid points about needing to test before deployment. Though remind me why Al Gore [imdb.com] isn't President? I seem to remember the paper voting system stuffed up.

          Vote 1 Robin Williams [imdb.com], I say. :-)

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            Though remind me why Al Gore isn't President?

            Because he didn't win enough popular votes in Florida to secure the electroal votes he needed to achieve a majority.

            Anything contrary to that is a loony's conspiracy theory and a political party's inability to comprehend that they lost.

            Though to be absolutely fair, he'd have been a 1-termer anyway, so he still wouldn't be president today.
    • by shawb ( 16347 )
      I's think the analogy of jumping off a bridge [wikipedia.org] would be dead by now.
  • Whoa... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:10PM (#18103748) Homepage
    is Europe leaving the U.S. behind?

    I didn't know they were related...

    Nice dis of the US though [for no reason whatsoever]. I should point out that Canada doesn't have voting over the net either. Neither does most of the free world. [and yes, I'm Canadian...]

    Tom
    • Re:Whoa... (Score:5, Funny)

      by MrCopilot ( 871878 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:57PM (#18104054) Homepage Journal
      I should point out that Canada doesn't have voting over the net either. Neither does most of the free world. [and yes, I'm Canadian...]

      Thanks for pointing that out , I guess the words World's First in the headline was not enough. [You have my sympathy.]

    • Re:Whoa... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spisska ( 796395 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @09:03PM (#18104094)

      is Europe leaving the U.S. behind?

      Apples and oranges. Many of the same factors that make a national election possible in a country like Estonia make it impossible in the US.

      For one thing: The United States does not have a national election. The US has 50 concurrent state elections for federal offices. At the same time, there are 50 separate elections for state-level offices, and thousands of elections for county, city, schoolboard district, ward, etc offices, not to mention ballot initiatives, referenda, multiple-selection judicial contests, and so on.

      A national election in a country like Estonia involves only one choice -- for party. Parliamentary seats are divided among parties based on the percent of returns for each party, and the party decides which of its candidates sits in Parliament. The party with the most seats nominates a Prime Minister who then appoints a government, which assumes power provided it has the approval of the Parliament.

      If the party with the largest number of votes is unable to persuade the whole assembley to approve its nomination, the chance goes to the party with the next largest share of votes, and so on. Thus you can get some quite strange bedfellows in European coalition governments (like the Red-Green coalition in Germany until recently). But this is all separate and distinct from the voter, who has no say beyond party preference as to how the government is comprised or who the Prime Minister is.

      Thus a national election in Estonia is one question on one ballot that is the same for the whole country.

      In Maricopa County, AZ, last November there were 19 different initiative and referendum measures in addition to the usual slate of federal, state, county, city (Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, etc), judicial, school board, etc. races that varied according to ward, precinct, township, jurisdiction, school board district, etc. While their ballot was one of the longest in the country in November, the same complexity and range of contests is true in any big city.

      When you have one question on one ballot for the whole voting population, then internet voting is feasible. When your ballot is much more complex, much longer, and requires strictly validating voters according to location and eligibility, it becomes much more problematic.

      Apples and oranges.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LordLucless ( 582312 )
        When you have one question on one ballot for the whole voting population, then internet voting is feasible. When your ballot is much more complex, much longer, and requires strictly validating voters according to location and eligibility, it becomes much more problematic.

        Actually, none of those are really problematic. The Estonians had a national ID card, which was used to verify the voters. If you have a national ID card, it's trivial to attach address information (to validate location) and age (to vali
        • And this is all on the assumption that the Estonian election actually works

          And they may never know if it didn't.
      • For one thing: The United States does not have a national election.

        The American election is a social experience that helps draw a community together.

        Last November our village firehall had a voting booth for kids, and a Girl Scouts' bake sale. Turn-out was excellent and the opportunity for everyone of every age to participate added interest and excitement to the process.

      • I disagree.

        Elections in Europe are not as simple as you would think. Take Austria for example: There are 9 states which are each divided into a couple of regions. Based on the last census, every region is assigned a number of seats in the legislative assembly. For each of these regions, states and at the national level the parties make a list of their candidates. Voters can now vote for the party of their choice, but they can also pick 2 people from that party's regional and state lists to give them a premi
      • You make a very good job of explaining the differences between both political systems, but I have to disagree on whether that has any bearing whatsoever on the difficulty of the election over the internet. I mean, internet voting means using computers!. I admit I have no idea how do you go about identifying voters on the US but surely there must be a voter's register somewhere or otherwise I'd be able to vote if I happened to be visiting over on vacation on an electoral date. So (and I'm gonna defeat myself
      • Like it fucking matters, if you have so many goddamn elections why is it YOU STILL ONLY HAVE TWO MAJOR PARTIES TO VOTE FOR.
      • The more complicated the ballot is, the easier it is to do it from your PC than in a voting booth. On your PC
        at least you can look stuff up.

        Internet voting is also a lot easier than the ballot box when it comes to multiple regions. You can vote thousands
        of times in thousands of regions all from the comfort of your home. Thats the rub. Validating voters
        is fairly easy. Validating that the vote being transmitted is the actual vote of the person in front of the computer,
        when there are millions of co
  • by sokoban ( 142301 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:12PM (#18103764) Homepage
    I think whoever had the bright idea to make an online election must have been a little bit Estoned.
  • by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:12PM (#18103770)
    I mean I can already see the trojans and bot nets whose design is to fake votes or just DDOS the election servers (likely to give one side an advantage if they have less e-voters). Ah the joys of a brisk black market for selling and buying votes.
    • Or to put it another way:

      This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
  • by powerpants ( 1030280 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:15PM (#18103786)
    Don't all the qualms with electronic, paperless voting apply here?
  • Perhaps, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wyldeone ( 785673 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:16PM (#18103796) Homepage Journal
    The question is, is that a bad thing? We have enough problems trying to secure our electoral process without internet voting to make everything even more difficult. In addition to the security concerns (now elections can be hacked from anywhere, Russia, China, Iran) there's also the problems with coercion. With secret balloting, it's more-or-less impossible to coerce voters, because there no way to prove how someone voted. But when you can stand over their should while they vote, it becomes a lot easier.

    I think the biggest question is, what problem is this trying to solve? What's wrong with non-internet voting that internet voting will fix? And will whatever that is be worth the consequences? I'm one who feels like the days of a pen-marking-paper ballots should come back (hey, we still have them in my district) and leave behind all of these more modern, more easily hacked systems. Is it really that important that the results of the election be known the of the election? Important enough that we're willing to sacrifice the security of the balloting?
    • Something that came up in a discussion with someone who develops electronic voting software. His specific concerns about Internet votin were:

      How do you safeguard against me holding a voting party on election day? I'll sit next to my partner and make sure the newfangled voting technology doesn't confuse her into making an incorrect vote. Me and my friends will keep note of who doesn't attend my election day voting party, we'll all watch each other vote so we know we agree on who to vote for. I'll also make s
      • From TFA (Score:3, Informative)

        by xixax ( 44677 )

        The voting will take place by people putting their state-issued ID card, which has an electronic chip on it, into a reader attached to a computer and then entering two passwords
        Unless all Estonian PCs come with a state ID card reader, this sounds like using the Internet as a transport for tradtional electronic voting rather than "Internet Voting". A government agency uses something like ssh to transport confidential data, yawn...

        Xix.

        • Ding ding ding! Slashdot would be a lot more grounded if we didn't so consistently assume people are stupid. Why not at least give them the benefit of the doubt by reading the article? I'd say the main difference between Estonia's system and ours is that there you at least have to produce some ID.
          • by Dunbal ( 464142 )
            Slashdot would be a lot more grounded if we didn't so consistently assume people are stupid.

                  At least half the population ARE stupid. More if you're of above average intelligence.
    • I think you would see a large shift in voting/progress if you switched to online voting. It's often said that progress in society is the result of the older generation dying out and being replaced with a younger generation that has new ideas. If you consider that younger generations are renown for not voting, combined with a linear increasing life expectancy (the average life expectancy increases 2-1/2 years every 10 years), then you're seeing a gradual reduction in turnover for voters opinions. A turnov
    • I don't think there will be too many coercions. Why would your [parent/spouse/roommate] bother to force you to vote for a particular person when [he/she] could just log in as you and vote emself. Same ip. Who's gonna know?
  • by BurningTyger ( 626316 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:16PM (#18103800)
    Really, the point of voting in person is to provide a safe place so that no one sees who you vote for except for yourself.

    What measure did they take to ensure that no one looks over the voter's computer screen and bribe/threaten the voter ?
    • I'm sure they thought of that and put an EULA on the website that says you agree to not let anyone watch while you vote.
  • Democracy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EnsilZah ( 575600 ) <(EnsilZah) (at) (Gmail.com)> on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:20PM (#18103830)
    Is this can work securely, how about just letting the people vote on laws?
    Getting rid of the middleman, so to speak.
    I always thought voting for some guy who might have ideas that might be more to your liking than some other guy's is far from 'democracy'.
    And how about some sort of incentive for people to vote on laws, like tax returns?
    • Well, if you want to forgo the middlment, then you might as well get rid of people in the process and give the power to the churches and the media... They are the ones that control the message that influences most votes.
    • Not that politicians are much better, but do you expect the public at large to have enough knowledge on a particular subject to make an informative vote for every measure they choose to participate in creating?What would prove most interesting is how discussion and amendments would be introduced in such a system. Best of all, we could have special interest groups spending money on attack ads all the time. The broadcast media receiving the ad money would be the winners every time.

      Heck, let's make it real

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 )
      Getting rid of the middleman, so to speak.

            Fascinating concept, only the middleman is hardly going to vote for a bill that cuts him out of the loop now, is he?
    • True democracy cannot work because although a person may be smart, people as a rule, are stupid.
  • by echinda ( 948608 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:21PM (#18103844)
    Population of Estonia: 1,324,333

    Number of votes that will be cast in next Estonian election: 13,371,337
  • by CrystalFalcon ( 233559 ) * on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:22PM (#18103846) Homepage
    This is a bad idea for the reason that countries have secret voting.

    A significant part of "secret voting" is that not only is the government unable to look into how you personally vote, but it must also guarantee that nobody else can look into it, so that the vote is yours and yours alone.

    When you vote from home, this guarantee cannot be fulfilled, as you can be pressured into voting for whatever by whomever else happens to be in the house with you at that time. That is not necessarily a very pleasant experience.
  • by btempleton ( 149110 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:29PM (#18103898) Homepage
    Voting over the internet has its attractions, but it often involves leaving behind the concept of the secret ballot (as does mail-in voting as in Oregon of course) and also can generate serious security risks. Not enough details on the Estonian system -- if the real voting is done on the small box they put their card into and it can generate a secure channel to the voting system, then it's possible to do it securely even with a compromised network or PC, but if the PC is involved in anything but passing along encrypted traffic, there are serious risks.

    Likewise if these are terminals at home, secret ballot goes out the window. If these are terminals in a secured location just using the internet as a platform for encrypted communication with a server, you can still have secret ballot.

    But in any case, voting over the internet presents real problems in auditability. Where is the paper trail?

    It's good to be left behind in these areas.
    • by JimBobJoe ( 2758 )
      but it often involves leaving behind the concept of the secret ballot (as does mail-in voting as in Oregon of course

      I don't agree that any state's mail-in system is particularly vulnerable in terms of secret ballot issues. What's important is the system and processes that are used in how the ballot envelope is handled.

      When the envelopes are received, individuals check the outer envelope to see if it meets the identification/verification criteria. Once that is done, the ballot is in a second envelope and tha
  • by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @08:36PM (#18103932) Homepage
    On behalf of internet users everywhere, I'd like to thank Estonia for giving us this wonderful opportunity to participate in its elections [wikipedia.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I will never, ever trust an election where people vote through a computer. There are things that are so important for the future of a country, such as a presidential or a parliamentary election, that you just have to go back to the basics: a pencil and piece of paper. I don't care how long the process takes or how expensive it is. The whole process has to be transparent to voters.

    In my country (as in many countries) you go to a booth, you vote in secret, you drop your vote in a transparent box, the votes ar

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