Smart cards and the democratic process

As smart cards become more and more globally prevalent, organisations are starting to discover a number of new niches where they’re applicable. Governments are using ID printers to generate large quantities of smart ID cards and a recent use of smart cards to improve the democratic process has gained global attention.

E-voting and smart cards

In many places around the world, the use of electronic voting (e-voting) has increased. At the same time, governments are pushing for national e-ID cards, which offer a secure approach in which to identify registered voters.

There are two aims of e-voting, firstly, the process uses smart cards to ensure that only eligible voters take part in the election process. Secondly, to offer a secure and easy approach to voting online, from either your home or workplace.

Many states and countries already utilise e-voting, for example Finland and Estonia. These two nations used e-voting during recent national elections. Although not all e-voting systems use smart cards, those that do can benefit from a series of improvements to their democratic process.

Strengths and weaknesses

There are several benefits to smart card use within an e-voting system. For instance, electronic voting is a lot harder to manipulate than traditional modes of voting, such as paper or post.

A smart card, with its integrated processor (IC), uses cryptographic protocols to store, add and delete personal data in a secure manner. When used as part of the e-voting process, it can securely identify and authenticate people before they cast their vote.

Also, electronic voting can handle voting updates on a much larger scale. If a citizen casts his or her vote electronically, he or she could update the vote using remote electronic voting. A traditional paper vote would need to be manually removed from the system.

There are also some downsides to e-voting. For one, not everybody has access to a computer or is in a position to attain a smart card.

Further, it is hard for an electronic voting system to be transparent. Whereas most voters know how the traditional paper-based system works, the electronic system is still new.

It is also much harder to inject mechanisms of transparency into the electronic system. Germany, for instance, allows citizens to see every part of the paper election process, including the ballot counting.

Multi-channel voting

The use of smart cards for e-voting should not be the sole voting process, instead, a voting system should utilise a range of voting modes, or multi-channel voting.

By incorporating e-voting into a system that utilises both paper and postal voting, state’s can access the strengths of smart cards while mitigating their weaknesses.

Smarts cards are the next stage in the voting process. Find out more about smart cards and ID badges from the experienced team at PPC.