Electronic voting (also known as e-voting) is a term encompassing several different types of voting, embracing both electronic means of casting a vote and electronic means of counting votes. An electronic voting (E-Voting) system is a voting system in which the election data is recorded, stored and processed primarily as digital information.
Electronic voting technology can include remote internet voting system, optical scan voting systems and specialized voting kiosk . Sanjay et al (May 2011) also define e-voting as any system where voters cast their vote using an electronic system instead of paper ballot. Sanjay further explained that this electronic vote which is stored digitally is transferred from voting system to a counting system . E-Voting can be seen as a better form of voting as it eliminates several drawbacks in the traditional voting system. But Randolph C (2004) explain that even though e-voting system plays important part in the general election process, there are several other important factors that will contribute to the overall success of an election and this include processes, people and technology.
The current method of voting during general elections in Ghana is through paper base voting which comes with a lot of problems ranging from delay in voting resulting in long queues, spoilt votes due to wrong thumb-printing and delay in declaring results. Ghana has held eight (8) successful presidential elections after independence, but always issue of vote rigging and the credibility of the results becomes an issue. These concerns arise from the fact that people don’t have trust in the current paper base voting system. The current paper base system is perceived to give room for manipulation of votes by officials at various polling stations and also at the collation centers .
Also other issues faced with paper-based voting in Ghana are the perception of political opponents stuffing the ballot boxes with already voted ballot papers, and delay in counting after vote has ended. These concerns are the main initiator for the investigation into a possible electronic voting system implementation for subsequent elections in Ghana.
Electronic voting if well designed and tested will try to alleviate these problems and perceptions, and reduce or do away completely with spoilt votes which in most cases, the percentage of spoilt ballot papers are more that the percentage received by some of the Presidential candidates.
E-Voting has been attracting a lot of interest in the country and has been a subject for discussion in various media during the past years. The interest of E-Voting is spreading across many sectors of the society, notably University and Polytechnic institutions where SRC elections are mostly conducted electronically through Electronic Voting System.
As stated in Aviel D. Rubin February 27, 2004 report, elections allows the citizen to select their people who they deem fit to represent them. Naturally, the integrity of the election process is fundamental to the integrity of democracy itself. He further stated that any system that is design for election must be a system that can withstand any attack, and also must be a system which the voters can accept and the various candidates can accept the election results without any dispute .
But most often elections are being manipulated in order to influence their outcome. The design of a good voting system, whether electronic or using traditional paper ballots must satisfy a number of sometimes competing criteria. The anonymity of a voter’s ballot must be preserved, both to guarantee the voter’s safety when voting against a malevolent candidate, and to guarantee that voters have no evidence that proves which candidates received their votes. The voting system must also be tamper-resistant to prevent a wide range of attacks, including ballot stuffing by voters and incorrect tallying by insiders.
The main aim of the research is to investigate and come out with the most feasible and acceptable electronic voting system and improve upon the current design for national elections in Ghana taking into consideration our current ICT infrastructural or ICT penetration in Ghana.
Ghana Electoral Commission (EC) has conducted six (6) elections since the fourth republic, and in each of these instances we have been faced with challenges of bloated electoral register resulting into some voters voting more than once. There have been several reforms to ensure a credible voter register . But after all these reforms multiple voting still exists.
Secondly, our current paper base voting comes with several challenges which include the following:
Delay in vote counting after vote has ended at polling stations
Voters travelling long distance to polling stations to vote
Low voter turnout as a result of voters queuing for long period at polling stations
Tampering of voting results
High percentage of spoil ballot papers due to wrong thumb printing
Overall cost of electoral materials (ballot boxes, ballot papers etc)
The main focus of this research is to investigate and come out with suitable electronic voting system and improve upon the existing features for our national elections to curb these challenges. The research will investigate the suitability of remote electronic voting systems like internet voting and or voting electronically at various polling stations using a Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) something called a voting kiosk.
Objective of the study
The main objectives of this research is to investigate and discover the various methods of e-voting system that can be implemented for national elections, give a wide overview on the potential benefits and associated challenges in implementing Electronic Voting (E-Voting) in the Country’s general elections.
The study has the following specific objectives:
To identify the various e-voting system that will be feasible to implement for our national elections
To find out which of these methods is more acceptable by the voting populace
To improve upon the accepted e-voting system
To examine the potential challenges that are likely to surface for each implementation
What are various E-Voting Systems that can be implemented for National Elections?
What will be the preferred e-voting methods for voters?
What improvement or enhancement can be added to the preferred e-voting system?
What are the potential benefits associated in implementing Electronic Voting (E-Voting) in the Country’s general elections?
What are the associated challenges in implementing Electronic Voting (E-Voting) in the Country’s general elections?
Significance of the study
Implementing electronic voting system for national elections will reduce drastically the amount of resources we spent on manual voting systems . It will also increase voter turnouts and delays in vote counting and declaration of results. It will also eliminate multiple voting and tampering of voting results. Voters will not have to travel a longer distance to a voting center to cast his/her vote; it will not require geographical proximity of the voters.
Scope of the study
This research is to investigate and improve on the current E-Voting systems that can be implemented for Ghana general elections, but considering the limited time and resources available I will focus on Internet Voting system and Direct Online Voting at polling Stations (Voting Kiosk). I intend to limit the scope of the research to the voters around the regional capitals only and Internet security expert and System Developers from Expresso Telecom
Organization of the study
The research work is organized into five (5) chapters.
Chapter 1 discusses the introduction, the background of the study, problem statement, the objectives of the study, the significance, and scope of the study and the proposed methodology of the study. Chapter 2 of this thesis is a literature reviews some of the various methods of electronic voting techniques which have been used during elections around the world. The methods I employed to collect information about various e-voting systems are described in Chapter 3, and the results of this information collection and the responses to this survey which were received is presented in Chapter 4, analysis of the Case study is presented in Chapter 5 and the conclusions drawn from those results are summarized in Chapter 5.