The Electronic Voting (e-Voting) has effectively replaced the traditional paper-based voting system. The Electronic Voting System aids the voter to cast his vote through a digital or an electronic medium. The Electronic Voting is implemented through Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), Short Messaging Service (SMS) using Smart Phones, Remote or Internet Voting (i-Voting) over Internet, etc. This post will discuss about what is Electronic Voting, how it works, its various types (such as EVM), its applications, advantages and disadvantages.
What is Electronic Voting
Electronic Voting is a system which helps the voter to record his choice for a particular candidate securely and privately. The e-voting system is an integrated system designed using a micro controller which generates the results based on the opinion of the people.
Fig. 1 – Introduction to Electronic Voting (e-Voting)
The Election process is made simple using Electronic Voting System. The first procedure involves logging into the website with the voters registered details. Then the user or voter selects a candidate according to his personal choice. This is called submission of ballots digitally. The system records the details and stores the voter’s information in the database and computers help in counting and displaying voter’s results.
Most popular type of Electronic Voting includes Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) and recording votes via telephones, private computer networks, or the Internet (i-Voting) using a smart phone.
Fig. 2 – (a) Voting using Smart Phone (b) Voting Using EVM
Types of Electronic Voting
There are different types of Electronic Voting namely:
- Remote Voting System
- Direct Recording System
Fig. 3 – Types of Electronic Voting (e-Voting)
Remote Voting System
A Remote Voting System can be of two types. They are:
- Internet Voting
- SMS Voting
Internet Voting (i-Voting)
Internet Voting is a type of e-Voting done remotely via internet. In this system the voter can participate from any location. Few countries like France, Switzerland, Estonia use Internet Voting (i-Voting) for National Level Elections. Internet Voting is also popular among television shows.
SMS (Short Message Service) Voting
SMS voting system is used in popular television shows where the audience votes by sending SMS to a specific number. Mobile Phones are used to send an SMS.
Direct Recording System
Poll-Site Voting using Electronic Voting Machines (EVM’S) is a popular example of Direct Recording System. Till now, 21 countries have used EVM for national level polls such as United Kingdom (UK), Australia, France, Germany, Canada, India, Italy, Belgium, Brazil, Estonia, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Romania, Switzerland, Venezuela , Philippines.
06 out of 21 countries are still using EVMs for the polls. India is one such country. The Election Commission of India collaborated with Bharat Electronics and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd to design and devise an effective, faster and reliable Electronic Voting System and thus first Electronic Voting Machine came into existence in the year 1982.
The EVM’s are used in National Elections and the participant has to go to the specific location called the voting booth to cast his vote. The entire process is supervised by Government Electoral Authorities. EVM displays a list of names of candidates and the user selects his preferred candidate by pushing the button against the name. The LED glows and selection is displayed on the screen which confirms the choice of the user.
Different parts of world have reacted differently to the use of EVMs. North America and some parts of Europe have shown a decreasing interest to EVMs whereas South America and Asia have shown a rapid growth in interest towards EVM technology.
How does Electronic Voting work
Architecture of both EVM (Direct Recording System) and Internet (Remote) Voting System is discussed in detail.
EVM (Direct Recording) System Architecture
The Electronic Voting Machine System consists of the following components:
- Power Unit
- Voting Unit
- Control Unit
- Display Unit
- Confirmation Unit
Generally, Power Unit consists of a Voltage Regulator as it requires fixed output voltage regardless of varying input voltage.
Voting Unit consists of Resistors connected to press buttons. The user selects his candidate by pressing the button against the name displayed.
Micro controller is used as the Control Unit which stores the voters data. This unit consists of a CPU, RAM, ROM, I/O Ports and Timers.
Display Unit is Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). When the user pushes a button on the EVM, the result is displayed on the Display Unit which is in textual format.
Buzzer and LED forms the Confirmation Unit. Once the button is pushed by the User on the Voting Unit, Buzzer beeps and LED glows indicating that a particular button is selected which acts as a Confirmation to the User. Buzzer is an audio-signalling device which produces sound in the range of 2-4 KHz. LED is a semiconductor device which acts as a light source.
Fig. 4 – Block Diagram of Electronic Voting Machine System
Internet Voting System (Remote Voting) Architecture
Internet Voting or Online Voting System helps the users to cast their vote from internet connected computer or a mobile anywhere in the world. In this system, the voter’s login to the specific website and their identity is authenticated. It is followed by voting process. Once the process is completed, the user logs off from the system.
Online voting increases the voter’s participation and it is easier than the poll site voting.
The Internet Voting System contains
- Mixnet (Encryption and Decryption)
- Tallying and Result Consolidation
The database contains voter’s information like Name, Age, Telephone Number etc. It is responsible for collecting, storing and maintaining the data.
The server is responsible for authentication of the user based on the details entered by the user.
Mixnet is mixed networks that are a set of protocols that aids in Encrypted communication by using a chain of proxy servers called as Mixes which take in messages, shuffle and send them randomly to the next destination.
Decryption Mixnet involves decrypting messages by using private key and the message order is shuffled by the node and transmits the result to the next node.
Tallying and Result Consolidation:
The completion of voting process is followed by Result consolidation after the tally process of votes.
Fig. 5 – Block Diagram of Remote (Internet) Voting Machine System
Applications of Electronic Voting (e-Voting) System
The applications of Electronic Voting System are:
- Used in National Elections.
- Used in Television shows.
- Used in taking mass opinions.
Advantages of Electronic Voting (e-Voting) System
The advantages of Electronic Voting System are:
- Election process becomes fast.
- Accuracy and efficiency is high.
- It has become popular for its Ease of use.
- Process is confidential.
- Online Voting reduces election costs.
Disadvantages of Electronic Voting (e-voting) System
The disadvantages of Electronic Voting (e-voting) System are:
- Once the vote is cast it cannot be modified. Hence the voter or the user has to be sure of his selection.
- In case of voting through EVM’s the user has to go to the polling booth which might be inconvenient at times.
- Internet voting or Remote voting might have issues regarding connectivity and delay associated with it.
- Risks of i-voting include security and data integrity.