Posted on 4. August 2017 · Posted in

Technology is used in elections to achieve two objectives: (1) to ensure that all information produced during the electoral process, particularly the election results and the electoral roll, is correct and trustworthy and (2) to generate broad acceptance that the electoral outcome is a true and fair representation of the citizens’ will.

e use of technology in elections is growing. Computers increasingly perform many tasks that were previously undertaken by humans. Election technologies are not standard, o -the-shelf software systems; they are usually complex solutions customized to the speci c needs of each electoral management body (EMB). Since elections represent a country’s individual constitutional and democratic culture, they have their own distinct regulatory frameworks, focuses and voting procedures. us election technologies are (and will always be) context speci c.

When introducing or operating critical information and communications technologies (ICTs) in elections, EMBs must usually assure themselves and other stakeholders that a given technical solution ful ls national legislated requirements, is secure and trustworthy, is of high quality, and will avoid failures and perform as expected.

Certi cation of technologies, such as electronic voting or tabulation systems is often seen as an option for providing this assurance. Certi cation practice varies greatly between countries and EMBs; some do not do any, while others use very distinct processes with vast di erences in scope. e process is made more complex by the fact that the related terminology is not well de ned. Expectations as to what certi cation can achieve, and assumptions about the resources required for certi cation, are often not realistic. Most importantly, certi cation can not, on its own, create democracy or trust in the process.

  • Certi cation will not automatically con rm that the electoral process is ‘in line with international standards for elections’ or conducted ‘according to best practice’. e integrity of elections and the resulting democracy depends on much more than technically certifying equipment and processes.
  • It is not a means of importing democracy, and it should not be used as an argument to reject criticism of the electoral process or the technology used.
  • It is not a quick solution to establish trust in the chosen election technology. Certi cation is a complex process that usually involves devoting considerable time and resources in addition to satisfying detailed technical requirements. While some of these requirements can be derived from legal frameworks or international obligations and standards, there are currently no comprehensive, globally agreed technical speci cations for election technology.

However, certi cation can assure national and international stakeholders that an election technology has been thoroughly and independently examined. It can also ensure compliance with a quality management system to maintain certi cation, including the implementation of continuous monitoring and improvement plans. e detailed scrutiny that is part of the certi cation process can lead to the discovery of shortcomings that may otherwise have remained undetected. A clear understanding of the requirements for certi cation, and a public announcement that these requirements have been met, can increase public con dence in the election outcomes.

Since using a certi ed system reduces the risk of technology failure on election day, the certi cation process provides additional assurance that systems will work as planned. Moreover, certi cation can give vendors clear requirements for developing systems. If such requirements are formulated at a national or even international level, it is easier for vendors to provide exactly the systems needed. If vendors can get their products certi ed on the basis of meeting these requirements, it becomes easier to market these products in the jurisdictions for which the certi cation is valid.

is Guide aims to help stakeholders better understand the signi cance of certifying election technologies, what certi cation can and cannot deliver, and how it can be conducted and communicated.



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