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We are presenting the results of the CoDE project in this paper, where we investigate the costs per vote of different voting channels in Estonian Local Elections (2017). The elections analyzed involve different processes for casting a vote: Early Voting at County Centers, Advance Voting at County Centers, Advance Voting at Ordinary Voting District Committees, Electronic Voting, Election Day Voting, and Home Voting. Our analysis shows how the administrative costs per e-vote (an electronic vote) are half the price of the second cheapest option (Election Day Voting), representing the most costefficient way of organizing elections, given the conditions of this Case Study. Otherwise, different forms of convenience voting have much higher costs, giving us subjects for further discussion on how to organize multichannel elections.
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How Much Does an e-Vote Cost? Cost
Comparison per Vote in Multichannel
Elections in Estonia
Robert Krimmer
, David Duenas-Cid
Iuliia Krivonosova
, Priit Vinkel
, and Arne Koitmae
Tallinn University of Technology, Akadeemia tee 3, 12618 Tallinn, Estonia
State Electoral Ofce of Estonia, Tallinn, Estonia
Abstract. We are presenting the results of the CoDE project in this paper,
where we investigate the costs per vote of different voting channels in Estonian
Local Elections (2017). The elections analyzed involve different processes for
casting a vote: Early Voting at County Centers, Advance Voting at County
Centers, Advance Voting at Ordinary Voting District Committees, Electronic
Voting, Election Day Voting, and Home Voting. Our analysis shows how the
administrative costs per e-vote (an electronic vote) are half the price of the
second cheapest option (Election Day Voting), representing the most cost-
efcient way of organizing elections, given the conditions of this Case Study.
Otherwise, different forms of convenience voting have much higher costs,
giving us subjects for further discussion on how to organize multichannel
Keywords: Multi-channel elections Calculation of costs TDABC
1 On e-Government, e-Voting and Calculation of Costs
Since McLuhan coined the notion of a global village [42] for the current Information
Society [56] we adopted, naturalized and routinized the use of technology for several
constituents of our daily life. The leap to an online world of Public Administration [36]
had often been regarded as a potential cornerstone for managerial reform and creating
future systems of governance [45]. In relation to this, e-government, following Yildiz
[61] can facilitate better structures for interconnectivity, service delivery [5], efciency
and effectiveness [24,50], decentralization, transparency and accountability. Citizens,
already used to relating with others (friends, family and businesses) use online tools
and consider the use of e-government measures as a normal step in the development of
technology-based relationships [8].
Estonia is one of the pioneering and leading countries in adopting e-government
tools [1,27,32,51], thanks to the three layers forming the backbone of their gov-
ernment services: the X-road system, the electronic ID and the service provision eesti.
©Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018
R. Krimmer et al. (Eds.): E-Vote-ID 2018, LNCS 11143, pp. 117131, 2018.
ee [41]. Amongst the causes for this success Kalvet [27] lists: (1) utilizing an e-
commerce role model for the use of ICT in the public sector [55]; (2) the presence of
enthusiastic and visionary civil servants who developed information systems in the
public sector [63] and politicians focused on developing a program of e-government
[17]; (3) a favorable legislative environment towards ICT; (4) stable funding for ICT
expenditures; (5) the adoption of the Estonian ID-Card by public administration; and
(6) cooperation between the public and private sectors, especially the banking sector as
a generator of expectations regarding e-government services and as a general catalyst
for e-government (p. 146). As a result, Estonia represents an ideal venue for observing
different dimensions of e-related expressions such as e-government, e-voting, e-
banking or e-commerce [30].
1.1 Convenience Voting and Electoral Complexity
The adoption of e-voting strategies can be inserted into the context of the battle against
the consolidated tendency for a declining turnout [4,39], which is challenging global
understanding and the functioning of the democratic process. Some of the causes
described for understanding this decline have been summarized as (1) the transition to a
less competitive electoral scenario, (2) a generational decline in the will to participate in
the political process and (3) a transformation of values that lead to political engagement
[6]. The disengagement of citizens at elections threatens the correct functioning of
democracy by unbalancing the distribution of power and representation between those
who participate and those who do not [37], having spillover effects on the global
legitimacy of the system of governance and its decision-making [9,48]. Many gov-
ernments and Electoral Management Bodies react by actively seeking out, testing
and/or implementing improvements to traditional voting systems, presuming that a
more convenient voting system will have positive impacts on the turnout at elections
As a result, new systems for early or convenience voting had been proposed in a
number of countries [31,34], and administrative rules and procedures have been
adapted to allow citizens to cast their vote at different moments in the election cycle
[20], trying to increase the comfort of voters and ease voterscomfort [2,7].
Administration of elections represents a necessary factor inuencing voter turnout: an
adequate voting system might not increase the number of voters, but an inadequate one
will denitely decrease it. Although election administration differs from context to
context, it is still commonplace that new voting channels cannot replace but can only
complement existing methods of participation in elections due to the responsibility to
provide a service to the entire electorate [19,62]. However, the opportunity to rethink
and optimize electoral administrative procedures when introducing these additional
voting channels is often missed.
The Estonian e-vote remote online voting system, in use since 2005, turns Estonia
into the only country in Europe (if not in fact the world) to use this without restriction
in all types of elections [54]. The Estonian I-voting project was established in order to
sustain and increase voter turnout by creating an additional and convenient voting
channel that would be in coherence with efcient use of the infrastructure already in
existence [28]. Estonian e-voting systems can be considered a successful and widely
118 R. Krimmer et al.
used voting mode (over 30% in the last three elections) but with an unequal impact in
different subpopulations [52].
The adoption of multi-channel electoral systems poses a set of new challenges to be
considered by public administrations, including additional workloads for electoral
administrations, increased vulnerability from double voting, increased length of voting
periods or difculties derived from overlapping voting periods [59]. Previous research
studies to evaluate multichannel elections [34,60] indicated the three main areas of
concern: (1) multiple-channel elections increase the complexity for election adminis-
trations; (2) the increase in complexity requires business process reengineering of
electoral processes; and (3) it involves analyzing the cost of introducing new voting
channels. This situation addresses a different dimension in the debate on elections, how
to achieve the desired social goals with a reduced economic impact.
1.2 Cost Accounting
The analysis of the costs arising from running elections has attracted researchersand
practitionersinterest, but a large share of the research already conducted on this issue
had been focused on the costs for candidates and campaigns [22,26,47], the costs for
voters [14,16,23,46] or the costs of public information systems [12,40]. Other
projects that addressed the topic revealed (1) the increase in the cost of elections all
over the world [44], (2) the need to dene different kinds of electoral costs and the
analytical scope of the methodology [38], (3) the need to include costs incurred by
adding new voting channels, either high one-off costs (e-votes) or transaction costs
(postal voting) [35] and (4) the need to overcome the reduced level of transparency and
limited opportunities for scrutinizing certain voting modalities [13]. A clear and suc-
cessfully proven methodology for facing this challenge is still lacking [58], permitting
the calculation of costs of multichannel elections overcoming the previous difculties,
amongst others, (1) the lack of depth in approaches for calculating costs based on the
assessment of administrative costs through electoral budgets and their division by the
number of voters participating [18], the difculties of uncovering hidden costs and
dealing with different accounting systems and governance structures [10,38] or dif-
culties relating to the choice of methodology of directly questioning the source (levels
of response, overall quality of responses) [25]. Three main problems can summarize the
access to the costs of elections: (1) the difculties in accessing election costs [11], as
many democratic governments are not obliged to divulge this information; (2) the
difculties in recovering hidden costs from budgets; and (3) the difculties of allocating
the costs of public infrastructures to the organization of the election.
2 Methodology
For developing the research methodology, we referred to a broader research eld of
governmental cost accounting and business-oriented methodologies adapted for cal-
culating administrative management costs. Our goal not only relates to detecting
potential inefciencies in the electoral process or to raising awareness of the costs [43],
but also, in particular to deliver comparative results of the costs of different voting
How Much Does an e-Vote Cost? 119
channels, in order to enrich the existing literature on e-voting and electoral analysis. To
achieve this, our proposed methodology relies on the use of (1) Business Process
Reengineering (BPR) [3,21] for facilitating workow analysis of complex systems
(elections); and (2) Activity-Based Costing (ABC) [15,33] for calculating costs per
service/unit produced by the electoral system (votes), in particular, the use of Time-
Driven ABC (TDABC) [29], which reduces the volume of data required for conducting
the ABC analysis of (1) the practical capacity of resources committed and the costs
involved and (2) unit times for performing transactional activities.
Based on this, a model was developed with the following steps:
1. Conducting electoral process modeling based on the analysis of electoral legislation
and publicly available internal instructions, complemented with interviews with
stakeholders and on-site observations.
2. Creating a list of activities based on ndings from Step 1. Select only those
activities which are organized differently depending on the voting channel.
3. Identifying resource pools and determining costs assigned to each resource pool.
4. Attributing costs to activities (attribute directly if possible; attribute by proportional
time in other cases) in order to receive total cost per activity.
5. Calculating the practical capacity of resources (we set it at 80% of the theoretical
full capacity in line with the standard established in accounting research).
6. Dividing total cost per activity by the practical capacity, to receive cost per minute
per activity.
7. Dividing time spent on every activity by output to receive cost per output (in our
case, per vote or ballot paper) per activity
. Multiply this number by the unit cost of
a resource pool in order to receive the cost per vote or ballot paper per activity.
Total the cost per vote cast for all activities considered, in order to receive the cost
per vote used per voting channel.
8. Comparing costs per vote cast for different voting channels.
3 Case-Study
3.1 Case Selection
As was mentioned above, Estonia has a leading position in the development of e-
government and I-voting tools, having aroused the interest of many scholars trying to
understand the adoption of these tools by citizens [1], its impact on electoral turnout
[53] or internal processes in the I-voting system [40], leading many to consider Estonia
as a critical case in any relevant research on e-democracy.
Administration of Estonian elections is rather complex, permitting the multichannel
analysis proposed. Voters are simultaneously offered multiple voting channels (Fig. 1).
However, not all the voting channels are active during every election (voters residing
In traditional TD ABC the time per item of output is estimated. However, as is the case with
elections, we know precisely how much time is spent on every activity, we receive time per item of
output in the manner described above.
120 R. Krimmer et al.
outside Estonia cannot participate in Local Elections) and some of the voting channels,
when occurring, overlap both in their periods, like advance voting at county centers,
advance voting in ordinary Voting District Committees and Internet voting.
Two more elements endorse developing a case study in Estonia. Firstly, the fact
that Estonian elections by and large use the existing infrastructure, providing an
excellent opportunity to test analytical methodologies directed towards delving into
hidden costs. Secondly, the involvement of the Estonian Electoral Management Bodies
(State Electoral Ofce) in developing the case study and also the interests of Estonian
administration in implementing a similar cost calculation methodology to the one
proposed in this research by 2020.
With this background, Estonia has been selected as the rst case for us to test our
methodology and model. For this analysis, we focus on the most recent elections in
Estonia which happened to be the Local Elections taking place in October, 2017.
3.2 Case Description
Estonian local elections took place from October 515, 2017, and offered voters seven
different voting channels. Overall, it provided a turnout of 586,519 voters (53.3% of the
electorate), including 120,888 early and advance voters (20.6% of turnout) and 186,034
e-voters (31.7% of turnout). 279,597 voters cast their votes on Election Day (47.7% of
turnout). The results do not represent a big change from previous local elections in
terms of overall turnout, following the series of declining turnouts starting in 2009, but
indicate a consolidation of the use of e-voting (31.7% of votes cast) and the popularity
of voting in county centers (40% of all early and advance votes were cast in 28 county
centers, compared to only 60% of advance votes cast in 549 ordinary polling stations).
In order to conduct the cost analysis, we divided voting channels occurring in
relation to time of voting:
I-voting (10
to 4
day before Election Day).
Early Voting (10
to 7
day before Election Day).
Advance Voting (6
to 4
day before Election Day).
Election Day Voting.
In relation to the voting location, we consider:
Supermarket Voting - Voting organized in county centers (Early, Advance and
Election Day Voting).
VDC Voting - Voting organized in ordinary Polling Stations Voting District
Committees (VDC) according to the Estonian legal system (Advance and Election
Day Voting).
This division is based on the following criteria: (1) The differentiation between
voting organized online and voting at physical locations (Early, Advance and Election
Day Voting) is due to the obvious organizational differences and, as a result, activities
and costs involved; (2) voting organized in county centers and voting organized in
ordinary VDCs are analyzed separately due to a signicant difference in the number of
locations (28 county centers compared to 549 ordinary VDCs), staff involved (36
How Much Does an e-Vote Cost? 121
members of staff per ordinary VDC and, at least 8 ofcers per county center), and
voting channels offered in these locations (Early Voting is only organized in county
centers). Home voting is considered as a subtype of Election Day Voting and, as a
result, it is included in this category of our analysis. To analyze it separately, further
observations would be required to accurately establish travel time and average number
of voters per polling station.
Early voting in county centers is a relatively new voting innovation in Estonia, and
it implies that for four days from the 10
to 7
day before Election Day, voters could
vote at any of the county centers regardless of the voting district of their residence. In
2017 local elections, 28 county centers were open throughout the country. Half of them
were situated in shopping malls, expecting a signicant increase in turnout by making
the voting process more convenient.
Another important feature of Estonian elections is that early, advance and e-voters
are not permitted to override their votes on Election Day. The principle of the prece-
dence of ballot paper voting allows e-voters to override their e-vote with a paper vote
but only during the period of early and advance voting, not on Election Day.
3.3 Time Frame, Processes and Activities
As our focus is on cost variation between the different electoral channels present in the
Estonian electoral system, we considered the processes occurring in one particular
period of the election cycle: the election period [34] (Fig. 2). In Estonia the election
period starts 90 days before Election Day with Informing EU citizens of their right to
voteand nishes three days after the Election Day with the Resolution of complaints
on electoral management. The activities and processes occurring before and after the
election period would not add differences to the costs analyzed amongst voting
channels, as the activities occurring are the same for every channel.
Based on the analysis of electoral legislation and publicly available internal
instructions, complemented by interviews with municipal secretaries responsible for
organizing elections, members of EMBs, members of the National Electoral
1) Earl y voƟng at county centers
2) Advance voƟng at county centers
3) Advance voƟng at ordinary VDCs
4) Cus todi al vo Ɵng
5) Ele ctron ic vo Ɵng
6) Ele cƟon day voƟng
7) Home v oƟng
1) By P ost
2) At the Diplo maƟc Missions
3) Ele ctron ic vo Ɵng
VoƟng Channels for voƟng in Estonia
VoƟng Channels for voƟng f rom abroad
Fig. 1. Voting channels in Estonia.
122 R. Krimmer et al.
Committee, and the I-voting auditor, as well as multiple on-site observations across the
country, we mapped the electoral processes occurring in the time frame under con-
sideration. Overall, we identied 31 processes with 177 activities among which we
selected only major processes which are organized differently, depending on a voting
channel which constitutes the third step of our analysis. These processes are as follows:
1. Organization of the voting place.
2. Voter identication.
3. Processing votes.
4. Counting votes.
These four major processes consist of different sets of activities depending on
voting channel and voting location. There are 22 activities for I-voting, 8 activities for
early and advance voting, and 7 activities for election day voting, all of which will be
described in more detail in the following section. This represents our list of activities
for TD ABC analysis. During the third step of analysis, we identied the following
resource pools: labor costs, printing costs, stationery costs, transportation costs, rental
costs, costs of equipment and depreciation costs. We assigned costs to those pools
based on electoral budgets available, information derived from procurement contracts,
interviews, observations and estimates. In order to assign costs we also considered: the
ratio of activities consumed by different voting channels to avoid double counting; the
number of times an activity is repeated during the electoral period; the time spent in
conducting a certain activity; the number of people participating in a certain activity;
and the nal number of votes cast through every voting channel. For calculating time,
we derived data from log les, on-site observations, legislative regulation and inter-
views. For the fourth step, labor and transportation costs were attributed directly to
activities; other costs were attributed based on the proportion of time every activity
consumes. Finally, the steps from the fth to eighth step were calculated according to
the model.
Fig. 2. The electoral cycle [34].
How Much Does an e-Vote Cost? 123
3.4 Description of Processes and Activities Analyzed
Organization of the voting place for Election Day Voting consists of many activities
from the delivery of ballots, ballot boxes and other equipment to putting the seal on all
paper ballots allocated to a polling station. Moreover, the organization of voting places
for Advance Voting requires additional equipment and particular skills from the staff.
For Electronic Voting, setting up the voting place is no less complicated. For an e-
voter, the voting place is the voting application through which a voter casts a vote.
However, the supporting infrastructure without which e-votes could not be cast
includes: an electronic ballot box (which is a vote storage server), vote forwarding
server and the log server [49].
The process of voter identication differs signicantly for the different voting
channels. During the Election Day, voter identication occurs based only on the printed
voters list. During Advance Voting, those polling places allowing voters from outside
their place of residence (county centers) conduct voter identication with the help of
the electronic voter registers which are updated daily. Therefore, such voting locations
must have computers with access to an updated electronic voter register. For voter
identication in I-voting, the voter identies himself/herself with an ID card used via a
card-reader in the voter application. Based on the information retrieved from an ID
card, the voter application gives a voter an appropriate list of candidates. To cast a vote,
a voter puts a digital signature onto the ballot. Alternatively, identication may be
completed with the help of digi-ID or mobile-ID.
Processing votes is the least complicated activity for Election Day Voting, as all
votes are stored in ballot boxes, and no additional steps are required before the count.
Otherwise, processing votes cast during Advance Voting requires transportation of
votes from outside the Voting District (VD) to the appropriate VD/County/National
Electoral Commission. For this purpose, votes should rst be sorted according to their
VD. This process also requires delivering votes belonging to this VD. Processing e-
votes takes place with the help of an electronic ballot box. All other activities asso-
ciated with it such as removing the information on a voter from a vote take place during
the counting process.
Counting votes depends on the format of votes cast: manual counting of paper
votes and automated counting of e-votes. All paper votes in Estonia are counted
manually, at least two times. No equipment such as scanners is used in the counting
process. However, counting advance votes and election day votes also differ from one
another. To count advance votes, rst votes should be removed from their envelopes.
Then, the second stamp should be stamped on every ballot paper. Finally, advance
votes are mixed with election day votes and counted together.
Now, when the differences in how four major processes are organized for every
voting channel are explained, we move to the description of different sets of activities
constituting those processes for every voting channel.
Regarding Internet-voting, we consider such activities as: auditing the I-voting
system; organizing seminars and training sessions for observers, the media and all
those interested in I-voting (activities aimed at building trust); conducting the
124 R. Krimmer et al.
penetration test of the I-voting system; monitoring the network; activities concerning
harmonization between I-voting and paper-based voting (printing and transportation of
e-voterslists, manual transfer of e-voters into printed voter lists); counting and
recounting of votes (these processes are automated, but by law require certain numbers
of ofcers to be present); storage and destruction of e-votes, voter ID cards, and hard
drives. Hence, calculating I-voting costs also considers such cost pools as trans-
portation and printing costs, alongside labor costs and depreciation costs which take
into consideration the expected life span, initial costs of I-voting system acquisition and
the cost of updates and replacement.
Regarding voting organized in ordinary polling stations, we consider the fol-
lowing activities: delivery of equipment before voting starts (voting booths, ballot
boxes, stamps and others); setting up a voting place (installing voting booths, setting up
signs giving directions, setting up tables for voting district committee ofcers);
stamping ballot papers before voting (as in Estonia, every ballot must have a stamp
from the voting district where it would be issued to a voter); voter identication during
voting days; counting ballot papers; transportation of ballot papers for recounting;
recounting. Therefore, among the cost pools we consider labor costs, transportation
costs, printing costs, stationery costs, rental costs for equipment (mainly renting
printers and laptops which polling stations need for advance voting and election day
voting, but also rental of voting booths as according to our estimation based on
interviews and observation, around 25% of VDCs must hire voting booths for elections
as they do not possess their own ones).
Regarding voting organized in county centers, we consider all the same activities
as for voting organized in ordinary polling stations, with one additional activity, which
is processing of advance votes from outside the voting district: two members of staff for
every county center are obliged to transport votes from outside their voting district to
the National Electoral Commission, then, collect home votes, and transport them back
to their county. That is how the exchange of votes from outside cast during the advance
voting period is currently organized. Another thing to consider is that counting advance
votes always requires more resources than counting election day votes, even when it
occurs in the same voting settings, because it requires the additional activities which are
removing ballots from envelopes and putting a stamp of an appropriate VDC onto a
ballot paper for votes cast. In our model, we take this into consideration. Regarding
cost pools, we consider labor costs, transportation costs, printing costs, stationery costs,
and equipment rental costs. Early voting in county centers requires allocating additional
voting booths, ballot boxes, envelopes, laptops and printers for those who decide to
vote in a different voting place than their own. Such voting places should also have
printed lists of candidates available on request for all voting districts. Such voting
districts should also have at least part of their staff trained and able to operate laptops
with electronic voter registers and printers.
How Much Does an e-Vote Cost? 125
4 Results and Costs
The use of TDABC analysis allowed us:
to consider the different pools of administrative costs incurred during the man-
agement of local elections in Estonia, including (a) wages, (b) depreciation,
(c) transportation, (d) rental, (e) printing and (f) stationery costs;
to track the electoral expenses incurred by the different protagonists involved in
managing elections, including (a) Local Municipalities, (b) State Electoral Ofce,
(c) Estonian Information System Authority (RIA) and (d) others;
and to allocate those costs to the voting channels, (a) Early Voting at County
Centers, (b) Advance Voting at County Centers, (c) Advance Voting at Ordinary
VDCs, (d) Electronic Voting, (e) Election Day Voting (including Home Voting) at
County Centers and (f) Election Day Voting (including Home Voting) at Ordinary
Through process modeling (BPR) we could understand the internal steps for every
voting channel and estimate the unused capacity for every model (see Fig. 3). As a
result, the TDABC analysis of existing voting channels allows us to allocate numbers
to some aprioristic ideas regarding how the costs rise or decline. In particular, the
combination of a reduction of use for certain voting channels due to a decline in its
popularity but deployment of the same structures and resources (workforce, number of
polling stations and working hours), leads to an increase in cost per vote. In particular,
our data permits stating that certain forms of Advance Voting have large amounts of
unused capacities resulting in low cost-efciency (higher cost per vote cast) compared
to other voting channels.
Fig. 3. Model of the activity Ascertaining voting results in a Voting District Committee.
126 R. Krimmer et al.
The analysis conducted shows (Fig. 4) that for the Local Elections in Estonia
(2017), the most expensive voting channel was Advance Voting in Ordinary VDCs
(3) for which the costs considered constituted 20.40 euros per ballot paper. Next comes
Advance Voting in County Centers (2) with 6.24 euros per ballot paper and Early
Voting in County Centers (1) with 5.07 euros per ballot paper. Regarding Election Day
Voting (6), the costs considered constitute around 4.50 euros per vote cast with almost
no difference between county centers and ordinary VDCs. I-voting (5) represents the
cheapest option carried out in the 2017 Estonian elections, with 2.30 euros per e-vote
5 Discussion and Conclusions
This research has a double and complementary goal to take one step forward in the
approach to costs involved for elections. First of all, we aim to use an innovative
method in order to count the costs of voting systems to be used in multichannel
elections, proving the suitability of its use. Secondly, we aim to put our method into
practice in a real electoral context, promoting reection of the costs of different voting
channels and their efciency.
Regarding the methodological dimension, the methodology we proposed could and
should be used in different case studies, should be adapted to the context, or in further
elections in the Estonian context, in order to allow more general conclusions to be
reached. Accordingly, the results we obtained are valid for the case study we analyzed
(Local Elections in Estonia, 2017).
The proposed methodology allowed us to assess with greater accuracy the
administrative costs of running elections. The denition of direct and indirect costs
incurred by the different protagonists that occur in the organization and development of
elections gives a more realistic view of electoral costs, improving previous approaches
based on assessing costs by adding up shares of total costs collected from electoral
budgets. Secondly, the TDABC methodology allows a more accurate allocation of
costs of voting channels, revealing the activities with the heaviest drain on resources
that trigger the cost expenditure, facilitating further reection in the drive for efciency.
Voting Channel Cost per ballot (in Euro)
Early Vot ing in cou nt ry ce ntres 5,07
Advance Voting in country centres 6,24
Election Day Voting in country centres 4,61
Advance Voting in VDC 20,41
Election Day Voting in VDC 4,37
I-Voting 2,32
Fig. 4. Costs for the different voting channels for Estonian Local Elections (2017).
How Much Does an e-Vote Cost? 127
Finally, the use of observation as the main strategy for collecting data allows us to
surpass some traditional limitations of calculating electoral costs. Amongst other
things, previous researches pointed out the limited access to data on electoral costs and
the lack of ability to track expenses as the main constraints for a better t for analyses.
Moreover, this observational approach allows replicating research in other contexts
where the availability of information on electoral costs is poor but observation of the
electoral process is allowed. In order to test the assumptions derived from our obser-
vations, the approach was complemented by a signicant number of interviews with
polling ofcers and staff, members of local electoral councils, National Electoral
Commission, State Electoral Ofce of Estonia and other agencies involved in elections.
The support of Electoral Management Bodies when providing information and
experience-based opinions improves the validity and credibility of the results.
Regarding the cost analysis, we can raise some general statements regarding the
Estonian Local Elections (2017): (1) E-voting is the cheapest voting channel proposed
in the electoral context analyzed due to the tools acceptation by citizens and reduced
costs involved in deployment. The cost per e-vote cast is half the cost of the second
cheapest option; (2) Election Day Voting represents the second cheapest option per
vote due to the fact that it is a frequently used voting channel and even with the
increased amount of resources deployed; (3) Early and Advance Voting channels are
more expensive due to the length of deployment and the lower number of participants
that use these channels by comparison; (4) Advance Voting in Ordinary VCD is by far
the most expensive channel, at around 18.00 euros per vote more expensive than the
cheapest voting channel.
Costs per vote are correlated with resources invested and the popularity of the
voting channel. In the search for convenience for voters, e-voting seems to be a good
bet in terms of efciency and success amongst voters, refocusing the debate on suit-
ability to other dimensions (trust, security). The consolidation and success of e-voting
in the Estonian electoral context, and its consequent cost efciency clearly contrasts
with other voting channels that consume more resources without achieving such high
levels of success. Even so, we would like to stress that the results presented are valid
for the elections analyzed, and that a change of voterselectoral behavior in further
elections could impact on the distribution of costs by changing them substantially. To
better understand electoral costs, this research should be repeated in the same electoral
context allowing a comparison between elections.
Finally, the use of TDABC methods in this research, and in future research studies,
may have practical implications in terms of rethinking the way elections are organized
and formulated; consequently, less efcient voting channels try to maintain the con-
ditions to allow voters to cast their votes in a convenient way but have less impact on
reducing public expenditure. Multi-channel elections including e-voting, such as the
one analyzed, represent a different and complex reality that can challenge the viability
of some paper-based voting channels, especially those with higher unused capacities
that reduce the efciency of the tool.
128 R. Krimmer et al.
Acknowledgment. We extend sincere thanks to Breck Shuyler who was assisting us with
modelling of BMPNs and on-site observation during the electoral process. This article is based
upon work supported by the Estonian Research Council grant (PUT 1361 Internet Voting as
Additional Channel for Legally Binding Elections: Challenges to Voting Processes Re-
engineering, 20172020).
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... This thesis is situated at the intersection of election administration and Internet voting studies. For Internet voting research, the case study strategy is common, both with a single case (Krimmer et al., 2018b;Krivonosova, 2018Krivonosova, , 2017Vinkel, 2015;Vinkel & Krimmer, 2017;Wrede, 2016) and comparative cases (Goodman & Smith, 2017;Puiggalí et al., 2017;Ströbele et al., 2017). In research on election administration, that is less true, and recent literature emphasises the need for case studies (Montjoy, 2008b), and in particular, for "qualitative in-depth localized case studies, utilizing fly-on-the-wall participant observation methods" (Norris, 2019, p. 8). ...
... Early versions of Papers I, III and IV were presented at the International Joint Conference on Electronic Voting E-Vote-ID, attracting vendors, election administrators and electoral assistance organizations as the audience. Furthermore, election administrators were actively involved in drafting and commenting on early versions of Papers III and IV (see Krimmer et al. 2018bKrimmer et al. , 2018aKrimmer et al. , 2019, and their contributions are mentioned in the acknowledgements sections in the papers. ...
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Internet voting has pride of place among digitalization projects in the public sector. It is frequently portrayed as an exemplary digitalization project, a proof of development and a demonstration of modernity. For these reasons, Internet voting implementation is surrounded by high expectations of its positive impact on all involved actors. While the impact of Internet voting on voters is relatively well studied (with the research on voter turnout, voter convenience and the change in voters’ political preferences), the impact of Internet voting on the implementing actors lacks empirical research. The previous research only indicates that Internet voting may result in greater accuracy and efficiency of the electoral process by decreasing complexity and reducing the administrative burden of election administration, without providing empirical evidence to support these expectations. The absence of focus on election administration leads to a situation in which a difficult task of Internet voting implementation is taken for granted: election administration is expected to deliver Internet voting in such way that guarantees positive outcomes. In line with this, the research on Internet voting focuses on the technological angle but not on the organizational and administrative ones. Furthermore, the small number of countries that have implemented Internet voting makes empirical evidence scarce. Still, Internet voting implementation at times leads to big failures, that are not necessarily rooted in technology. These failures disenfranchise groups of voters and challenge the integrity and the legitimacy of the electoral process. Therefore, it may be beneficial for future trials to know how to assess whether Internet voting implementation results in benefits to election administration. Thus, this thesis aims to reveal how Internet voting can be implemented to direct the impact of Internet voting towards a blessing for election administration rather than a curse. Therefore, the thesis poses two research questions: 1. How do election administrators and other actors implement Internet voting? 2. How do the choices made during the implementation of Internet voting affect election administration? Based on six peer-reviewed research publications, this thesis provides answers to these research questions. The theoretical foundation of this thesis builds on public administration theories, such as principal-agent theory and street-level bureaucracy theory, complemented with theories from accounting, business studies and engineering, thus providing for the interdisciplinarity of this research. Methodologically, these articles represent different research designs, ranging from the case study to design science to scenario research design. Among the methods of data collection, the articles utilize stakeholder interviews, on-site observations, document analysis and desk research. Among the methods of data analysis, the articles focus on process modelling, Activity-Based Costing, legal analysis, and software-supported qualitative and quantitative text analysis. The data collection for most of the papers also involved fieldwork. This thesis examines cases of Internet voting implementation at different maturity levelsin different contexts, including amid the pandemic and in a non-democratic 72 environment. All of this allowed the collection of rich evidence supporting or rejecting the established theories on the impact of digital technology on election administration. The findings of this thesis establish that the impact direction of Internet voting on election administration depends on particularities of implementation: the way Internet voting is implemented will define whether it leads to greater accuracy and accountability, a lower administrative burden and the probability of failure, or vice versa. This thesis disentangles what Internet voting means in organizational terms and, in particular, which different forms the implementation of Internet voting can take. It showcases how Internet voting can combine highly sophisticated technology in the front end and manual activities in the back end. Informed by the evidence, this thesis provides practical recommendations on the sequence of digitalization of election administration, highlighting the consequences of first introducing Internet voting while keeping the surrounding electoral processes manual. In respect to the implementing actors, increasingly, Internet voting is not delivered by an election administration. However, new actors come from both private and public sectors, in contrast to the expected proliferation of private actors. In all considered cases, the electoral authorities voluntarily delegated some of their election-related responsibilities to other actors due to the lack of capacity to perform those tasks themselves. The collected evidence demonstrates that in these cases, choices made during the implementation process resulted in increased complexity, costs of election delivery and the probability of failure, while not increasing accuracy and efficiency in the expected ways. Internet voting also did not have a spill-over effect on automating the surrounding manual processes. That being said, Internet voting can still increase accuracy, efficiency and the level of automation of the electoral process, but in less direct ways than expected. For the implementing actors, Internet voting increased the administrative burden and discretion of front-line public servants, thus increasing the possibility for human error and maladministration. In addition to the empirical evidence and theoretical contributions, this thesis introduces two tools which may be of particular importance for practitioners. Tool 1 helps in translating the complexity of electoral law into clear graphical instructions for poll workers: in particular, it shows how the dozens of articles of electoral law that are affected by the introduction of Internet voting can be distilled into one model. This tool can be applied to other domains of public administration that are experiencing digitalization. Tool 2 is a working methodology for calculating the administrative costs of different voting channels, with the opportunity for inter-channel comparison. This tool may have a broader application for comparing the costs of any digitalized public service with its analog version.
... Table 1 presents the data and methods for answering each research question. The primary source of the data is the electoral law of Estonia (Municipal Council Election Act 2017; Riigikogu Election Act 2017) and the data collected by the Cost of Democratic Elections project (Krimmer et al. 2018;Krivonosova 2017Krivonosova , 2018. The research follows the approach of Saldana (2009) for coding documents. ...
... Table 1 presents the data and methods for answering each research question. The primary source of the data is the electoral law of Estonia (Municipal Council Election Act 2017; Riigikogu Election Act 2017) and the data collected by the Cost of Democratic Elections project (Krimmer et al. 2018;Krivonosova 2017Krivonosova , 2018. The research follows the approach of Saldana (2009) for coding documents. ...
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The introduction of new voting channels, voting technologies and other voting innovations are often thought to improve voter participation in elections and democracy. However, it frequently happens at the expense of administrators, who needs to deliver even more complex elections. This article traces how the introduction of a new voting channel, Internet voting, affects frontline administrators through a qualitative in-depth case study of the 2017 local elections in Estonia. Findings show that the local election administration plays a substantial role in delivering Internet voting, despite the centralized election hierarchy. The case shows little evidence to support the expectation that Internet voting decreases the administrative burden of local election officials. The article outlines the vulnerabilities in Internet voting administration, resulting from the complexity of delivering multi-channel elections, particularly the ones integrating Internet- and paper-based voting channels. The article makes important recommendations for improving the implementation of electronic voting and improving the quality of elections.
... The adoption of m-voting allows voters to have the option of casting their votes from anywhere (including their homes), and at their convenience. Such a method decreases the length of voting periods, reduces vulnerability, and decreases long queues at polling stations during voting (Krimmer et al. 2018). ...
... We shop and do many others via online, why can't we do the same? (VOE11) An alternative such as m-voting is more cost effective to the voters and electoral commission than the traditional method, which is the physical presence of polling stations (Krimmer et al. 2018). Alternate voting methods have been experimented with in some part of Europe (Alvarez, Hall, and Trechsel 2009). ...
South Africa’s general election of 2019 posed many challenges, some of which threatened the credibility of its result, and the entire election process. Some of the challenges were multiple voting, many hours of queuing, which led to fatigue, and a significant decline in the number of voters owing to the limited timeframe. These factors heighten the need for m-voting as an alternative or complementary method of voting in the country. Owing to similar challenges, many studies have been conducted, which consequently focused on development and strengthening of security features of e-voting and m-voting applications. However, many countries, including South Africa are not deploying the applications because of their complex nature, such as not being able to trace and track its components. The complexity is attributed to the lack of an architecture framework. This paper presents a technical architecture framework, to support and guide the development and implementation of m-voting applications, to possibly eradicate complexity and enhance the electoral process in South Africa. The outcome of this study was based on findings from analysis of existing materials and semi-structured interviews, in which the hermeneutics approach was employed.
... Furthermore, in 1996, a survey conducted by over 50 municipalities, compelled the Brazilian Electoral Justice to launch an e-voting system to permit 2000 Brazilian electorates to use the EVSs to elect candidates [29] to ensure accountability and transparency. Moreover, in 2010, the presidential election had more than 135 million voters and has been registered to allow the electorates to use the EVSs to cast votes using the voters' ID cards [30]. The lack of EVSs in most countries in Africa points to many problems that led to conflicts as a result of vote-rigging. ...
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Several countries have been faced with political tensions due to citizens’ perceptions that the national elections are found to be fraudulent to the extent that some of the electorates have decided never to vote because they have a strong belief that the results would be falsified in favor of the wrong candidate. The implementation of e-voting systems (EVSs) is considerably slow, although, few countries have started using EVSs due to many social, economic, technical, and governmental influences in those countries. Nevertheless, many countries have implemented various e-government (EG) applications and this is significantly higher than EVSs. This study investigates the potential contributions of e-voting technology (EVT) in Ghana to address election irregularities to prevent loss of lives and destruction of properties as a catalyst to deepen democratic gains. Design Science Research Methodology (DSRM) has been used to develop a robust architecture on the DSRM frameworks for the implementation of the EVS. This EV project should be adopted in Africa to support the Sustainable Development Goals 10 and 16 (SDGs 10 &16) which are anchored on reduced inequalities and peace, justice, and strong institutions. Results emphasize the importance of trust, diaspora involvement, and human factors in the voting process to ensure transparency and accountability. Therefore, electoral fraud should be a major national concern for any visionary government to formulate stringent national policies to use EV and EG applications for national development as widely recommended by International Election Observers (IEO) in Africa.
... Internet voting systems (IVS) and the respective infrastructure that is necessary to promote i-voting can be very costly in short-term consideration, not only in terms of purchasing but also maintenance of an IVS (4;6;16). From a long-term perspective, the associated costs per vote via IVS are remarkably lower than conventional votes and some cases have considered internet voting for the reason of cost reduction (1;4;11) [31,32]. However, most cases that have introduced i-voting still provide traditional paper voting, i.e., postal voting, as an alternative option to prevent vote coercion, which in fact adds additional costs (2;6). ...
This paper investigates the drivers and barriers of internet voting and the implications of a global pandemic for the development of the respective technology. In contrast to the expected uptake in the early 2000s of internet voting, the technology is still rather seldomly used in election systems around the world. The paper at hand explores the different forces that drive or impede internet voting adoption from a political, social, legal, organizational, contextual, economic and technological perspective. In an exploratory approach, 18 expert interviews and extensive complementary desk research were conducted. The findings identified 15 general drivers and 15 general barriers for the process of internet voting adoption. The evidence suggests that for a large part, the political features, trust and perception are the most pivotal factors to internet voting development.
... Furthermore, immutable Public Bulletin Boards (PBB) offer a transparent audit trail of the voting process. REV requires less physical labor at different stages of the voting process and infrastructure [33], if designed securely and correctly, it allows for tallying results faster, in contrast to traditional, paper-based voting systems. REV reduces the threat events of traditional remote voting systems (e.g., potential threat events emerging during tallying, or the manipulation of votes sent by postal mail [31]). ...
Conference Paper
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Remote Electronic Voting (REV) systems allow voters to cast their votes in an uncontrolled, distributed environment. At the same time, the REV system must provide ballot privacy and verifiability of the final tally. Research has proposed REV schemes offering ballot privacy based on computational intractability assumptions, but only a few provide Unconditional Privacy (UP). Therefore, this work proposes Æternum, a REV system with a voting scheme providing UP. Æternum does not require trust in a central authority, nor does it assume computational intractability of an underlying mathematical problem to provide UP. To satisfy UP's minimal trust assumptions, AEternum uses a permissioned Distributed Ledger (DL), that forms a decentralized network of permissioned nodes, which serve as a transparent, tamper-proof Decentralized Public Bulletin Board (DPBB).
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This paper examines the impact of two exogenous shocks – a 2018 technical incident that took place in Ontario, Canada, and the COVID-19 pandemic – on the administration of local elections in Ontario. Drawing upon survey and focus group data, this paper concludes that these two exogenous shocks affected the perception and adoption of online voting on the municipal level in differential ways. We find that the COVID-19 pandemic had a greater perceived effect upon the decision to adopt online voting than the 2018 technical incident. However, the perceived effects of the 2018 technical incident were just as likely to be felt in unaffected municipalities as they were in those that had been directly affected. Municipalities that had not used online voting in 2018 and medium-sized cities were more negatively affected by the 2018 technical incident. In contrast, the perceived effects of the COVID-19 pandemic did not hinge upon the previous use of online voting, city size, or the urban/rural divide.
This book constitutes the proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Electronic Voting, E-Vote-ID 2021, held online -due to COVID -19- in Bregenz, Austria, in October 2021. The 14 full papers presented were carefully reviewed and selected from 55 submissions. The conference collected the most relevant debates on the development of Electronic Voting, from aspects relating to security and usability through to practical experiences and applications of voting systems, as well as legal, social or political aspects.
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This article suggests that law modelling (using Business Process Model and Notation, BPMN) could make electoral laws more comprehensible to different stakeholders, and in particular, to election administration, especially in cases of complex elections with multiple voting channels. This solution helps election administrators to translate the complexity of electoral laws into clear instructions. By this, election administration can adapt to the frequent changes in laws, reach better regulatory compliance, and address the barriers they meet during the delivery of the elections, like overtasking and lack of institutional memory. As a proof of the concept, we demonstrate the applicability of the proposed solution by modelling one voting channel available in the 2019 parliamentary elections in Estonia, advance voting. The article contributes to the theory on election administration and suggests how this solution could be used in practice: in the field of the electoral law and outside of it.
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The original version of the cover and book was revised. The seventh editor name has been updated.
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Catalunya té una llarga experiència en votacions electròniques, que, de fet, es remunten vint anys enrere fins a les eleccions autonòmiques de 1995, però es tracta de meres proves pilot no vinculants que miren de fomentar aquest nou format de decisió. Les eleccions de 2003 repetiren l’experiment, i el referèndum sobre la Constitució europea, el 2005, també inclogué proves experimentals de votació electrònica a quatre municipis catalans. Mentre que a escala catalana ens trobem, doncs, amb una trajectòria limitada, els municipis catalans han adoptat una posició més decidida, aprofitant la convocatòria de consultes populars en diversos formats. Callús (Bages) i Sant Bartomeu del Grau (Osona) són dos municipis pioners en l’ús d’eines electròniques per permetre l’expressió política dels seus veïns. Sant Andreu de Llavaneres ho assajà un cop, i cal citar també l’experiència a Barcelona sobre la reforma de l’avinguda Diagonal. Es tracta d’iniciatives ja una mica llunyanes i amb resultats dispars, però més recentment hem assistit a una certa revifalla d’aquesta qüestió en l’àmbit local. Diversos municipis han celebrat consultes populars electròniques en aquests darrers anys: Riudellots de la Selva, Premià de Mar, Olot, Girona i un altre cop Callús. A més a més d’aquests antecedents reals, cal assenyalar que la legislació catalana requereix la creació d’una plataforma institucional comuna de vot electrònic. La Llei 4/2010, de 17 de març, de consultes populars per via de referèndum, assenyala, en aquest sentit, que «el Govern ha de posar a disposició dels ens locals una plataforma tecnològica comuna que permeti la implantació homogènia del sistema de vot electrònic» (art. 58). D’altra banda, l’article 59 estableix un sistema de garanties i transparència en què es preveu una certificació externa del sistema de vot electrònic, una comissió independent de garanties i, entre altres mesures, la remissió d’un informe anual al Parlament. Més de set anys després, res de tot això s’ha dut a terme. D’altra banda, les consultes populars no són els únics àmbits on les votacions electròniques podrien ser útils per a la millora de la gestió pública. L’Administració inclou altres procediments en què es fa necessari que un col·lectiu determinat de persones es pronunciïn de forma individual i secreta. A títol indicatiu, les eleccions sindicals o les eleccions a consells escolars són dos procediments en què l’ús de noves tecnologies podria facilitar una gestió més eficient i, sobretot, un augment notable de la participació de les persones interessades. Tot plegat aconsella explorar la viabilitat de la plataforma institucional comuna de vot electrònic exigida per la Llei 4/2010, i, amb aquest objectiu, s’han reunit experts de les diferents disciplines involucrades en el desplegament d’un sistema de vot electrònic (dret, informàtica, sociologia, gestió pública) amb tècnics experts de les administracions públiques catalanes. El projecte posa en comú aquest ric ventall de perspectives i estableix les bases, en cas que es consideri finalment viable, d’una futura plataforma comuna de vot electrònic. Tenim, en aquest sentit, un precedent en el Consorci de Serveis Universitaris de Catalunya (CSUC), que disposa ja d’un sistema integrat de vot electrònic al servei de les diferents universitats.
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The article analyzes an open data movement in an unusual context of highly developed digital economy and widespread popularity of e-government services in a country that is universally well-known as one of the global leaders in promoting information society and electronic democracy, but paradoxically demonstrating modest results in propagating a presumably related concept of open government data. In this regard, paying special attention to the investigation of main drivers, stakeholders and challenges of the open data movement in Estonia, the author argues that a highly centralized administrative policy that has been widely used previously by authorities in advancing various technology-driven public reforms, which partly explains a truly impressive advance of this Nordic state in e-government, e-commerce, e-banking and evoting, does not necessarily lead to same effective results in the open data domain. On the contrary, the presence of established democratic institutions and developed civil society as well as an incredibly advanced and dynamic private ICTindustry that values competition and professional curiosity along with a very strong sense of patriotism and adherence to a particular neighborhood deeply rooted in Estonian society has played a much more important role in diffusing the concept rather than just traditional government directives and strategies.
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the propensity to use e-government services in post-communist countries in the European Union. Design/methodology/approach A survey was conducted among 7,984 respondents from the states of Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The analysis focused on the following manifestations of e-administration usage in these countries: viewing websites run by public administration bodies, making contact with public administrations via e-mail, downloading the forms necessary to obtain a public service, sending completed electronic forms to appropriate offices, and contacting politicians, activists, or offices electronically to discuss matters important for a region or the whole state. Findings The results of the analysis presented in this paper show that there is a statistically significant relationship between the state of the respondent’s residence and the propensity to use particular forms of e-government. Practical implications Decision makers should create incentives to popularize electronic signatures, which are necessary to fully settle a matter in public offices via the internet. They could use financial assistance offered by the European Union to implement this technology. Moreover, they should award bonuses to private persons or entrepreneurs who use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in their contact with the state administration, for example, by way of charging less for issuing a driving license, building permits, or other documents necessary to apply for a building permit. The use of ICT in the client-administration relationship would reduce corruption levels by limiting direct contact and allow for reconstruction of all of the digital records to apply for a given permit, document, etc. Originality/value With the rapid growth of internet (and e-commerce) worldwide, the public administration sector has many opportunities, especially in a developing democracy. The paper is unique because it shows data collected from almost 8,000 respondents and it presents a comparison of the use of e-government among citizens of nine European Union member states.
Conference Paper
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The introduction of remote electoral methods (also, e.g., postal voting) serves the citizen in providing an easily accessible and comfortable means of voting. In addition, remote voting is also considered a viable alternative for disenfranchised voters whose participation in elections has always been dependent on the methods they are offered – voters living or residing permanently abroad, voters who are living in conditions which make it difficult for them to attend elections for geographical reasons and voters with disabilities. All these voters need to make extra efforts in participating in the democratic process, and in all these cases, the principle of universality (or general elections) prevails over the possible concerns connected with the way of voting. Still, Estonia is the only country in the world providing remote electronic means to its citizens in all elections countrywide. In this article we try to explain the reasons and modalities how Estonia could retain this service where other countries failed.
Conference Paper
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Estonia has acquired the reputation of a successful e-voting country, and perhaps justifiably so. It was the first country in the world to enable remote online voting in nationwide elections in 2005 and the share of e-voters has been on a rise ever since, now reaching one-third of all voters. Against this backdrop of a seemingly flourishing e-democracy, we set out to ask if the country’s success in e-voting also implies its success in e-democracy in a broader sense. In a qualitative case study, we compare Estonia’s experience in e-voting with the implementation and outcomes of three e-participation projects to demonstrate that considerable discrepancies exist between the take-up and perceived success of e-voting vis-à-vis other e-democracy instruments. In light of these findings the paper further discusses the factors that are likely to account for these differences and highlights the need to look beyond the success of online voting for a holistic evaluation of the state of e-democracy in a given country.
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E-voting has the potential to lower participation thresholds and increase turnout, but its technical complexity may produce other barriers to participation. Using Rogers' theory of the diffusion of innovations, we examined how the use of e-voting has changed over time. Data from eight e-enabled elections between 2005 and 2015 in Estonia, were used to investigate changes to the profile of e-voters and contrast them to those voting by conventional means. Owing to the aggregate share of e-voters increasing with each election, with one third of voters now casting their vote remotely over the internet, there was a lack of conclusive evidence regarding whether the new voting technology had diffused homogenously among the voting population, or remained a channel for the resourceful and privileged. Our findings show that diffusion has taken place, but not until after the first three e-enabled elections. Thus, internet voting has the potential to be used by a wide range of voter types, bridge societal divisions, and emerge as an inclusive innovative voting technology.
Concerns have been raised that insufficient funding has been affecting the delivery of elections in many countries. This paper presents a case study of England and Wales from 2010–2016. It demonstrates that many local authorities saw major real terms cuts and were increasingly over-budget. Those subject to cuts were less likely to undertake public engagement activities. State efforts to encourage voter participation may therefore be a casualty of austerity.