Is it possible to implement electronic voting in Spain?

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Electronic voting begins to break into electoral processes around the world, with the aim of facilitating citizens the exercise of voting, allowing it to be done at a distance, which makes it more efficient and eliminates economic and environmental costs associated with the traditional system . However, the dependence of technology or the risk of cyber attacks sometimes overshadows this type of election.

Canada implemented the online vote in the municipal elections of the provinces of Ontario in 2003, and five years later in those of Nova Scotia. New South Wales, in Australia, introduced it in 2011, and Switzerland, in 2005. The citizens of Estonia, for their part, have at their disposal the “i-voting”, an electronic voting system that they have already used in the 2015 and 2019 parliamentary elections, as well as in the 2017 local elections.

That of Estonia is also a case of success that stands out for its simplicity. It requires an Internet connection – through a computer or mobile phone -, the ID number and a password that the web automatically provides when the user accesses. You can vote several times at the time you are active, but only the last vote cast counts – which also allows the citizen to change their vote before casting it definitively.

Canada, Switzerland, Australia and Estonia are some of the countries that have opted for the modernization of their voting systems, for the related benefits: elimination of costs associated with traditional ballots, simplification in management and logistics – allows voting from anywhere -, decrease in counting and dissemination time; and above all, efficiency in the process and strengthening of security, according to experts.

Some essays
In Spain, in recent years, different public institutions have raised the possibility of implementing telematic voting, with the aim of improving participation and guaranteeing the citizens’ right to vote. Some even use it. This is the case, for example, of the Basque Country, which has implemented the Demotek electronic voting system for electoral processes with closed and blocked candidate lists, as well as for any referendum or popular consultation.

In Catalonia, at the end of 2018, the Government approved a bill that sought to implement electronic voting so that Catalans abroad could vote in elections to the Parliament and in other popular consultation processes. However, technical difficulty and distrust of citizens have slowed this process. Cybersecurity experts say that the bet in this area can end both challenges. “The objective is to guarantee a simple, efficient, accessible, fast and, above all, safe voting method for all parties,” says Sergio García, BDM of cybersecurity at OneseQ (by Alhambra IT).

In any voting process, the guarantee of security by its organizers is essential. “We know that the secrecy of the vote is crucial, regardless of the type of voting in question, so one of the priorities is to ensure non-traceability between the vote and the voter. All of this, based on the fact that the whole process must be cyber insurance and that it must be registered in files that can be audited later, ”García warns.

Human factors
In every electronic voting process, two important factors must be distinguished: the human factor and the digital factor. The digital factor can be secured and easily auditable, but the human factor is difficult to audit and control. There are many examples in traditional electoral processes, both with public institutions and with private companies, where there are scandals for the adjustment of votes, for doubts in the composition of an electoral table or in the voting process, because they are factors that are more easily manipulated.

Electronic voting allows a simple, efficient, safe, accessible and fast voting system for all voters and with multiple advantages in the reliability of the data, the efficiency in counting and disseminating the results, in reducing costs and in the improvement of the security of the process, where the levels of anonymity between vote and voter are maintained.

«During any audit process, our team makes a series of suggestions for improving the voting system, of which the vast majority are immediately received by the organizers»

The company Alhambra IT, from its area of ​​Cybersecurity called OneseQ, has been responsible for conducting, during the month of January, a forensic audit of the automated vote of the primary elections of the Dominican Republic on October 6, in order to to demonstrate that the automated voting process carried out was not “hacked”, that there was no malicious code and that, therefore, the voting station worked correctly in terms of security and performance.

In addition to the forensic audit, OneseQ makes in these cases a series of suggestions to improve processes and make them safer. «During any audit process, our team makes a series of suggestions for improving the voting system, of which the vast majority are immediately received by the organizers and others, the less, involve a more exhaustive adaptation process, to raise the security of the process ”, concludes García. .

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