How to choose an electronic voting platform

The guide provides key criteria for evaluating and selecting an electronic and online voting platform, including legality, security, privacy, usability, sustainability, and support. These criteria are essential to ensure an informed choice of a reliable and compliant e-voting solution, highlighting the importance of technological, legal, and ethical aspects.

Brief guide to eVoting selection: what are the criteria for evaluating and selecting an electronic, online voting and digital assembly platform.

In the age of infodemia, of overly rich and crowded information environments, there is a risk of falling into the phenomenon of choice overload, that is, overload from an excess of available and palatable options.

Given the premise, we know that it is not trivial to select the right software or solution, so we want to support users in choosing an electronic (evoting) or online (ivoting) voting platform by listing the main criteria and elements for an informed evaluation.

Here, then, are the 6 criteria to evaluate when choosing an eVoting (electronic voting) and ivoting (online voting) system:

How to choose an electronic voting platform: 6 criteria

Legality

An electronic or online voting platform is considered legal, hence usable without any risk, if it includes a set of technological safeguards suitable to prevent misuse or improper use of the vote and offer the greatest guarantees of confidentiality, secrecy and freedom of expression of the vote.

Not only that, the solution must take appropriate measures to prevent direct and indirect identification of voters and votes cast, thus ensuring absolute anonymity through a logical and physical vote/voter split. Beyond technological aspects there are also formal and regulatory issues.

A careful analysis of the Statutes and Election Regulations is essential to ensure the entity’s perfect compliance and unassailable electronic voting procedure. Eligo, with a consultative approach and know-how in evoting and ivoting of more than 20 years, has been validated by a Rome Court ruling in 2015 and by the Italian Data Protection Authority.

Learn how to ensure legal validity in an electronic voting project.

Security

Security-all the more so in an evoting and ivoting system-is a central subject that requires numerous precautions. Below is a sort of “census” of the security measures that an electronic voting solution should adopt by design.

Let’s start with the cloud. A cloud infrastructure, compared to an on premises one (i.e., a program or application to be installed and managed through a local computer) provides better management of security updates and is more adherent to standards, as cloud providers must comply with regulatory frameworks and certification paths.

Software security levels must also be tested and validated externally, by qualified market players, through various and periodic phases of analysis. The platform must then undergo Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing on a regular basis, which, through manual techniques and automated tools, calculate risk exposure and provide a snapshot of the state of exposure of its systems.

Finally, to be considered secure, an electronic voting platform must include measures such as Backup and Disaster recovery-that is, technological and logistical/organizational precautions necessary to restore systems, data, and infrastructure that are needed to deliver business services-the use of encryption at all levels and at least two-factor authentication systems to the voting area (Strong Authentication).

Read what logical and technological processes Eligo deploys.

Privacy

For an e-voting platform to be said to be GDPR compliant, it must act in full compliance with all the rules of the General Data Protection Regulation provided by the European Union, providing a standard format compliant with the new directives and adopting a qualified Cloud Service Provider, in Private Cloud configuration, compliant with ISO/IEC27001 and ISO9001 certifications and the EU 2016/679 (GDPR) regulation. The ethical dimension of data and privacy must be a pillar of developing a platform that can guarantee integrity, authenticity and secrecy of voting expressions.

Listen to the interview of Graziano Garrisi – Head of Privacy Area at LiquidLaw, a spinoff of the University of Salento – who explains privacy compliance in e-voting and how an evoting and ivoting platform should manage, treat and protect data.

Usability (Extensibility + Flexibility)

Jacob Nielsen, a scholar of web usability, defines usability as “the measure of the quality of the user’s experience in interacting with something, whether it is a website or a traditional software application or any other tool with which the user can operate.” In the world of information technology, therefore, usable is defined as a software product that is appropriate to the user’s needs and expectations, with operation that is intuitive, easily learnable, and aesthetically pleasing.

An online e-voting solution should therefore follow what is called user-centered design in technical jargon, i.e., a design and process framework that focuses the user’s needs, desires, and limitations on the final product, and precisely maximizes its ‘usability.

An eVoting platform must recreate the voting flow of a ballot or assembly event and represent a faithful reproduction, in a digital key, of the voting experience, the polling station, the ballot box, and an assembly so as not to generate user disorientation. In addition, it is important that the solution does not require special application downloads, side-by-side tools, or additional plug-ins, but has all the functionality to enable centralized and intuitive management of every stage of the election event.

A usable platform is in its own way also flexible and extensible when it can facilitate integrated experiences that the user requires, while at the same time driving operational efficiency and value. This is why a complete evoting and ivoting system can be said to be so if it can cover every single voting and assembly need-whether online, hybrid, or in-person.

Sustainability

That said, the sustainability objective – also pursued through the adoption of compensation measures and mechanisms that make voting and assemblies Carbon Neutral – turns out to be an indispensable criterion of choice when selecting an evoting and ivoting platform.

Consulting and support

Following a customer-centric model, cultivating a culture of customer service, advice and support that anticipates customer needs has always been a winning strategy. In such a sensitive area, it is not enough to be a supplier of a product, but to know every single aspect of voting and assemblies-from process to bylaws-to offer a multidisciplinary, timely, problem-solving consulting approach, ensuring operational excellence in eVoting.

Empathy toward the client is an indispensable value for Eligo.