e-Voting via the Cloud for the next Election?

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The UK is truly in the digital age. The National Health Service, department of work and pensions and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and just about any other government body, now performs most if its functions using the cloud.

The banking industry may have paved the way to the cloud with secure systems for online banking, but the modern consumer is comfortable conducting even the most personal of business online. We commonly exchange details of medical records, tax returns and personal information relating to employment or pension status with little regard to risk. We simply trust cloud IT providers to respect our privacy and protect us from criminals. So why is it different when it comes to politics?

Could Cloud Computing Enable a Vote Scam?

There are many reasons why people don’t want to move from a poll/paper vote to an online voting system. It mainly boils down to trust. We don’t trust politicians. We trust the technology – that is clear. As a nation of sceptics, the final transition to online voting seems to be a hurdle too far.

Voter Registration takes place online and as we move further away from written communication with each generation, you can expect the facility to register by post to disappear too. It makes sense for the government and consumers alike because it is far more efficient to set and forget a system like the online registration portal than to manually enter information that arrives by the sack full.

Just as your business takes advantage of cloud-borne efficiency drivers, as voters, we appreciate our government lowering admin costs, but what could give the consumer confidence vote online? Ultimately, it is the trust in cloud computing providers that will win over the public and that is what we’ve learnt from the 2015 election. This proposal already has support according to a survey conducted for a parliamentary publication.

How Cloud Voting Could Work

Governance Risk and Compliance frameworks in what will be one of the most scrutinised IT deployments should be the digital equivalent of Fort Knox, but with a spattering of David Blaine in a box. In short, secure and transparent.

The public could benefit from cloud computing in the same way as businesses exploit this highly accessible data and communication tool. Private businesses houses data in secure locations and use access and identity management systems to enable authorised access – so why wouldn’t we allow our government to provide the same service? The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance believe it would result in a more secure voting system.

What Will e-Voting Mean for the Election Process?

It could mean that we have a new government long before the Thursday voting day because just like postal votes, people could make their mind up long before the final day of the election. It may be necessary to stagger the vote to avoid a server crash on the first day of voting, which in itself could influence the votes cast by the remaining voters as they contribute. Imagine knowing how the votes are stacking up on a constituency-by-constituency basis, but still being able to influence the outcome. One thing is certain; It would mean we never have to face a situation where people are turned away from polling stations as they were in 2010.

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