Monday, December 01, 2008

e-voting in present Maldives

I've seen some news on www.haveeru.com.mv indicating that the elections commission is considering e-voting. My view is this will be a very stupid move at this stage in time and holds too many unknown risks. To start off we all know there is obvious problems with national registration, while these issues still exist moving to e-voting simply makes things worse. From the last round of presidential elections I am not very confident with the IT capabilities and the reliability of the databases hosted by elections commission. They still remain to be addressed.

I am also against any voting (electronic voting) system which does not have a paper trail. Meaning if anything goes wrong, or any disputes come up; there should be a paper trail to verify the votes. Just only depending on an electronic vote is not good enough at this stage, especially when that is done over the Internet.

Also there was indication about users having a user id and a password. If so would the commission hold any records on who I voted for?. In other words will those id's be linked to the votes they caste in anyway like stored in a database, etc. If so such a system cannot be accepted.

Lastly, any such system should be fully open source. The full source code of such a system should be published to the public. This is to make the system fully transparent.

Before even considering all of the above, we need to verify that the identity information of the Maldivians are accurate and have no flows. I have seen many repeated records of same individual during the last round. This is totally not acceptable, no excuses to this. If the elections commission so much looking to automate and have an e-voting system, they should move step by step. Trying to take the people for a rise using technology as a means is not the right way. Just cos most people are not aware of technology, using it for such sensitive tasks is purely taking advantage of them. That's my view. Now views may differ.

2 comments:

talkinelf said...

i did talk abt this on techtalk too. and i too do not believe if ever we do go to an electronic voting system we shouldn't go on that fully. we could use electronic systems abroad. and the username and password thing is lame. votes needs to be anonymous either its on paper or electronics. yes we need a lot of awareness before we can even dream of fully electronic voting system.

we should move step by step. like first use a centralized voter verification system at ballot stations. (provided that the voter registry database is upto date). another move we can make is to utilize magnetic strip on the national identification card or the fingerprint they collect when creating that Identification card to establish a trust able voter verification and identification system. atleast we can get rid of those annoying and unhygienic vote ink.

nass said...

Good points you've raised here.

I have a question about this system though. In this system do the people get to vote from home (using Internet) or do they have to go to voting booths which have computer systems?

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Instead of getting an e-voting system, perhaps what we really need is an e-registration system first (specially for the people who are out of the country).