In the past decade, there has been a revolution in the use of the Internet and the mobile devices like mobile phones, Personal Digital Assistant, smartphones and very recently tablets. With such increased use of the World Wide Web, it can be said that the Internet has become the center of information, communication, and business around the world. Yet, in conducting elections polling cards, ballot papers and manual counting of votes are still in use. Such crude methods have yielded less than good results. In the 2010 UK elections, the BBC (2010) reported that hundreds of UK voters living overseas contacted BBC News to complain that they were denied the chance to vote. Another statistical report from IDEA (2006) shows that just 37 percent of eligible voters aged 18 to 24 voted in the 2005 UK parliamentary elections. With all these problems in ballot paper elections and low interest in voting or elections as a whole, there is need to investigate the existing voting procedures in place and then try to create a better system for the use of software technology. This purpose of this project is to produce a software package that demonstrates the electronic voting procedure and creates dynamic performance results and statistics.
Remote electronic voting or internet voting as it is often called is not a new concept and has been tried in past years by many European countries but has been abandoned for various reasons. Therefore, to build efficient electronic voting software, it is vital to understand what electronic voting entails, what its advantages are and any problems associated with it. It is also important to investigate past electronic voting projects to find out how the projects were undertaken, the difficulties encountered during these projects and the reasons why most of these projects have not been employed in conducting elections.
The design of a good voting system whether electronic or traditional should incorporate some important features. First, the anonymity of voter’s ballot should be preserved to protect the voter from unscrupulous candidates and to guarantee the voters that no evidence shows the candidate they voted for. Second, tamper resistance is necessary that is security against insider attacks and other corrupt practices. More importantly, a good voting system should allow for the human factor. This includes providing accessibility to all voters irrespective of their physical situation or location. Thus, insight into existing voting systems is essential to developing a good electronic system thus enhancing the flexibility and credibility of elections. Therefore this report researchers, how elections are conducted in Britain, the different voting systems used in conducting these elections, what electronic voting entails, the technology that has been employed in electronic voting and the problems associated with these technologies and how the results of this research will affect the project and the system to be developed.
The procedure of online voting is simple. A voter registers with the local council to confirm participation in the election. Voting can be done in person, by post or by proxy (BBC 2010). Voting in person means the voter goes to the polling station to vote directly. Polling card is sent to the voter in advance containing details of the election and the polling station the voter should go to vote. When voting by post, the ballot paper is sent to the voter’s address before election day and the voter fills it in on the election day and sends it back to the council. Unforeseen circumstances sometimes make it impossible for the voter to cast their votes personally. When this happens, voting by proxy is possible that cast a vote with the help of another eligible voter. After all, votes are cast, they are counted and collated with the results from other constituencies and polling stations then the winner is declared.
There are many voting systems used in various countries around the world. One of these systems is the First-past-the-post system (FPTP) mostly used in British colonies. The United Kingdom uses the First-past-the-post system (FPTP) in voting Members of Parliament. According to the Electoral Commission (2008), FPTP voting takes place in single-member constituencies and to vote, the voter simply puts a cross in a box next to one candidate. Before the election, each voter receives a ballot paper listing the name of each candidate standing in their constituency, along with their party name or description and party logo. Then the candidate with the most votes in the constituency wins and all other votes count for nothing. The voter’s ballot remains anonymous as no one knows which candidate the voter chooses. The advantages of FPTP include simplicity and cost effectiveness, the quick counting of the ballots and announcement of the winner within hours of the polls and the respect for voter’s choice. One major drawback of the FPTP system is poor public support for the eventual winner of the election and other percentages of votes are wasted (even if a candidate gets a low percentage of votes, if he is the highest, he is declared the winner).
The use of the paper-based system in the conducting elections has produced a lot of problem of a propaganda war must be the audiences instead of the producers.