Electronic voting machines comprise of a variety of gadgets used to facilitate the actual voting process and counting of votes. In order to assess whether electronic voting machines really improve the voting process, there is a need to examine the advantages, disadvantages, and impacts of the electronic voting system.
In this respect, the discussion section of the essay specifically considers the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting as among the various other forms of electronic voting machines.
Accordingly, the essay is an attempt to answer the question; do electronic voting machines improve the voting process? Since this is the simplest and developed system of Electronic Voting (EV), it provides a number of factors that are worth exploring while assessing the impact of the electronic voting process.
Advantages of electronic voting
Previously, Electronic voting machines only allowed for digital votes. However, electronic voting has come of age following the introduction of Direct Recording Electronic counting, where vote tallying continues even as the voting process goes online.
In DRE voting, the voter selects his or her preferred candidate by touching on a sensitive select slot of the voting screen. Therefore, electronic voting using DRE allows for more transparency. This is very critical in a democratic nation.
In the midst of confusion and voter uncertainty about his or her preferences, he/ she has a number of options to turn to in an attempt at attaining an effective voting process. For instance, he or she may only have to look at the images and press/click on the right button (Haupt 1).
DRE has helped to improve the degree of accuracy in vote counting significantly. Since the votes for an individual candidate are tallied even as the voting process goes on, DRE eliminates possibilities of vote-rigging and theft from any of the candidates involved. In addition, it is fast and reliable. Unlike in paper-voting, electronic voting takes place in a virtual space that cannot lack a ballot box or run short of papers.
Moreover, the storage devices used in electronic voting allows for duplication of results with options of tabulating tallied votes from different stations. Also, the programs used in electronic voting may run in various languages allowing for effective voting by people from different communities, including the illiterate (Haupt 2).
Disadvantages of electronic voting
The electronic voting system has certain disadvantages tied to its use. These include problems like computer viruses that attack files containing the actual votes cast. This drawback could be a major setback if the file attacked contained votes ready for upload because no one is actually allowed to vote more than once.
In some states, electronic systems are predisposed to system hackers who master the unique codes of the machines and use them to access and change the basic information. Sometimes, system hackers tamper with the software prior to the voting so that it runs against the normal intention of the voters. In the end, the actual votes do not reflect the electorates’ actual views or even opinions.
In many other incidences, computer hackers tamper with electronic machines physically through tampering with the internet communication and vandalizing the cables. In such an event, the authorities involved in the running of the election have few options but to back up the machine’s memory and send the voting results manually (Hall and Alvarez 101).
Generally, the cost of installing electronic voter systems comprising of appropriate machines, software protection anti-virus, and back up security checks may be very high.
Compared to manual voting systems, electronic voting systems are expensive in terms of operation, such as in the amount of electric energy going into use and investments in internet communication infrastructure. Again, uploading results simultaneously to a tally center may cause jammed data traffic that cannot be handled by the existing bandwidth. This may result in stopping the voting process temporarily (Schoenmakers and Ryan 91).
Impacts of electronic voting
Electronic voting has created unusual convenience in the way the voting process occurs in many states. With the use of improved high- tech powered voting machines, candidates and electorates can now know beforehand whether they are losing winning an ongoing election.
The voting system has moved from the age of paper and manual counting to an automated voting system that is less fraudulent because people vote as their results go into tally.
The electronic voting system has also enabled people from different ethnic backgrounds to participate in the process as the programs use many languages to issue commands. In addition, audiovisual aids equipment used by the handicapped such as the blind and deaf, has increased the democratic space and freedom rights of such persons to participate in elections (Schoenmakers and Ryan 89).
Electronic voting has revolutionized the voting process, leading to more improved voting in many ways. Although the pitfalls of electronic voting seem evident in the field of computer and information technology, nevertheless, its effectiveness in handling the voting process for a growing population is sustainable to make it viable. Even in the face of hackers and software developers, electronic voting significantly improves the voting process and the outcome with minimal but detectable errors.
Hall, Edward and Alvarez, Michael. Electronic elections: the perils and the promises of digital democracy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008. Print.
Haupt, Thomas. Electronic voting: what is good and what is bad. October 2008.
Schoenmakers, Berry and Ryan, Peter (Eds.). E-voting and Identity: second international conference, Vote ID 2009 Proceedings. Heidelberg: Springer, 2009. Print.