Is Electronic Voting a Panacea for Low Election Turnout? Examples of Estonian e–Elections and Swiss e–Referendums

Author: Magdalena Musiał–Karg
Institution: Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (Poland)
Year of publication: 2012
Source: Show
Pages: 428-443
DOI Address:
PDF: ppsy/41/ppsy2012021.pdf

One of the most apparent signs of the crisis of the democratic system is a systematically decreasing turnout level in national and supranational elections and referenda. In reports and analyses concerning the level of political participation, experts more and more frequently notice a decreasing tendency of the citizen’s involvement in numerous types of elections. As Ola Pettersson points out, “according to the sources, less and less citizens appear at the ballot boxes”. Jacek Raciborski indicates that one of the most signifi cant consequences of the low citizen’s participation at the election procedures is the considerable legitimacy deficit. A number of countries attempt to prevent these phenomena from happening by undertaking various actions aimed at increasing the level of citizens’ involvement in political life (notably by increasing their participation in elections). That would infl uence the growth of the legitimacy level of the undertaken political decisions. It is worth noticing, that apart from the commonly used ways of increasing election attendance (such as correspondence voting, mobile ballot boxes), over the last few years politicians in many countries have had numerous discussions aimed at the implementation of electronic voting (e-voting). Its followers claim that thanks to e-voting, election and referenda turnout may be increased, as this method enables disabled people and people who are abroad to take part in elections. Furthermore, a considerable advantage of e voting, compared to traditional voting in polling stations is of greater convenience than the former. The aim of the following text is to attempt to provide an answer to the question whether electronic voting can be treated as a panacea for low election turnouts, whether this form of voting may be a warranty of a higher level of voter’s attendance than before. In the article, the author bases on the experience connected with e voting in two European countries – Estonia and Switzerland, which can be referred to as the pioneers in the use of e voting.

Switzerland Estonia electronic voting elections

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