Digital signatures key to e-voting success

Digital signature technology should be employed as part of the Government's planned electronic-voting pilots in next year's local...

Digital signature technology should be employed as part of the Government's planned electronic-voting pilots in next year's local elections, e-voting experts have urged.

Paran Chandrasekaran, chief executive at information security specialist Indicii Salus, believes the main challenges facing e-voting are fraud, anonymity, and proving that people are who they say they are.

He said, "The electronic signature gives a robust, responsible infrastructure, provided that it is backed by regulations and legislation." The Government has made no real attempt to understand how complicated the problem is, he added.

Councils willing to test voting on the Internet, by mobile and touch-tone phones, interactive digital television and by post were recently sought by local government minister Nick Raynsford.

The 2003 electoral pilot programme is a partnership between the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Office of the E-Envoy, the Electoral Commission, and the Local Government Association.

A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister said, "The whole point of the pilots is to test a variety of voting methods, but they will not compromise the security of the ballot."

The move follows trials in local elections last May when 2.5 million people had the chance to vote online, via text message or by post. A number of the pilots resulted in increased turnouts.

Earlier this year research from De Montfort University warned that a "big-bang" approach is not the best way for the UK to overcome barriers to e-voting.

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