Switching to electronic voting poses lucrative opportunities for private companies – and they’re now champing at the bit to get involved.
It is, right now, a relatively small market. Only about 20 countries around the world look to the international marketplace to procure electronic systems which will help their elections run smoothly. Most of them have done so out of necessity. Governments facing limited public trust have proved more likely to abandon the laborious – and easily manipulated – paper-based voting methods than those in countries whose system isn’t obviously broken. Latin American states have been the most enthusiastic adopters. They’ve had some success. In Brazil, where the most recent presidential contest saw a gap of just 1.5% between the two main candidates, the results were released by the morning after polling day. And they weren’t contested.
In Europe progress has been slower. An Irish attempt turned into a classic IT fiasco. A Dutch effort was quickly hacked, prompting embarrassment and a rapid retreat to paper-only systems. Europe has on the whole been a tricky market because of widespread worries about cybersecurity and privacy issues.
And then, last month, a sudden enthusiasm for making the change suddenly emerged in Britain.