The European Union (EU), as a geopolitical entity that spans most of the Old Continent, recently approved a report showcasing the potential of Information and Communication Technology (TIC) to strengthen and improve democracy.
The text – which passed in the European Parliament with 459 votes in favour, 53 against and 47 abstentions – is seen as an opportunity for the region to advance in electoral automation, since it includes e-voting and Internet voting among the technologies that can increase electoral turnout and improve the quality of elections.
In the report, the block highlights that “it is essential to recover the citizens’ trust on the European project”, and that part of the formula to reach this goal is the modernization of voting, and the use of e-governance instruments.
In this sense, digital democracy is seen as a support mechanism to strengthen the traditional system via citizen empowerment, while electronic and remote voting are seen as means to “broaden citizen inclusion and facilitate democratic participation”.
To support this proposal, the EU appeals to the voting turnout rates in the continent, which the organism alleges “have been decreasing since 1979, and descended to 42.54% during the 2014 elections”; it also warns this trend could be reversed by making voting easier through technology.
The reports cites automation in Estonia, the first European country to successfully carry out Internet voting. It claims that any other EU member state that considers introducing e-voting or some other remote voting model must follow Estonia’s guidelines, where in addition to the principles of egality, secrecy and freedom of the vote, they also guarantee the effective participation of the entire population, efficient processes in data protection; transparency and reliability of the vote count, and the existence of secure high-speed Internet connections.
Taking into account the benefits and challenges of automation and the use of IT, European deputies call for an agreement to promote e-voting and e-government to revitalize democracy.
They state that both technologies “if applied correctly and are accompanied by an adequate level of information, can contribute to the creation of a more transparent, participative democracy”.