Electoral participation in Europe has been steadily decreasing for the past 25 years, including European elections. The Commission’s 2015 report on the 2014 EP elections concluded that “looking ahead to the 2019 elections, it is important to […] examine further, and seek to address, the reasons for the persistently low turnout in some Member States”. The findings of this Report show that turnout among young people was particularly low in the last European elections: only 27.8% of 18-24 year-olds voted, compared to 51.3% in the 55+ age group. As a potential way to help reverse this trend, the European Union is interested in remote voting solutions, including Internet voting. Recent surveys indicate strong support among citizens for remote voting solutions as a means to increase electoral participation. Electronic voting can also offer some benefits, such as faster vote count and tabulation, greater convenience for voters, potentially increased participation and turnout, more accessibility, and cost savings due to little logistical overheads and no shipment costs. However, there are concerns about electronic voting. For instance, there can be a limited openness and understanding of the system for non-experts, a risk of manipulation by insiders with privileged access to the system or by hackers from outside, a possible lack of public trust, and increased infrastructure and environmental requirements (power supply, communication technology, etc.).
Open Evidence in consortium with RAND Europe has been commissioned to conduct the Study on the benefits and drawbacks of remote voting solutions to support the preparation of a best practice guide for the use of digital tools to facilitate the exercise of EU citizens’ political rights. The study is carried out on behalf of the Directorate-General Justice and Consumer of the European Commission.
This study will examine the extent to which remote voting solutions are employed in the European Member States, with a particular emphasis on Internet-voting, and it will analyse the legal, technological and social aspects related to them. This will allow us to identify the costs, risks and challenges of this type of solutions. The methodology will combine primary and secondary data and qualitative and quantitative methods. For example, evidence will come from review of the academic and grey literature and national laws and documents, in-depth interviews, case studies, and online surveys. Findings will be synthesised for the non-specialists and they will help to generate best practice guidelines and policy recommendations. This will feed into wider-ranging projects on the role of internet tools in stimulating democratic participation and to investigate how digital tools can contribute to the stronger and longer term engagement of citizens.
Project updates will be regularly posted on Open Evidence website and #EUremoteVoting