Automated voting (also referred to as electronic or e-voting) technologies are increasingly used in elections across the world. The possibilities for rapid aggregation and analysis of results, as well as potentially greater accuracy in the recording of the voter's choice, make computer-based voting equipment attractive to many countries. There is little doubt that the ability to quickly publish results can be of particular advantage in highly-contested elections where a prolonged period of counting and tabulation can contribute to political tensions and even undermine confidence in the final results. Electronic voting also offers the potential to address some traditional elements of unintentional voter error or intentional fraud, thereby contributing to greater confidence in the electoral process.
However, the strengths of automated voting systems also pose important challenges for voters, candidates, and election observers. For example, how can observers assess the operation of electronic systems to ensure that they have been free of error or fraud? What is the relevance of traditional election observers, who have focused their attention on traditional voting technology (e.g. paper ballots and ballot boxes) and who may have limited technological expertise? Which aspects of an election using electronic voting technology are most important and how may they be observed?
In order to explore these and other questions related to the challenges of observing electronic voting, The Carter Center convened a meeting of election authorities, academics, technical experts, and representatives from organizations involved in international election observation on March 17-18, 2005, in Atlanta.
The summary (click here) provides an overview of the main areas of discussion. This summary may not reflect the exact views of each participant. A meeting agenda and list of participants are also attached.