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Can I use Electronic Voting to vote online?



Can I use Electronic Voting to vote online?


The management of the procedure itself in order to achieve efficiency gains, as well as maintaining or improving safety and confidence throughout the process, are all defined objectives. However, it should not be forgotten that the application of electronic voting will help the voting citizen to exercise their right to vote more effectively and conveniently, as well as to seek to reduce some of the causes of abstention witnessed in Portugal during recent electoral events.

The use of electronic voting, in general, has been the subject of tests and pilot projects around the world in its many forms, such as face-to-face and non-face-to-face voting.

The intention of the States is to build more up-to-date electoral procedures, which falls under the category of “Electronic Voting”

The aim of electronic voting technologies is, above all, to speed up the voting and tabulation process. The management of the procedure itself in order to achieve efficiency gains, as well as maintaining or improving safety and confidence throughout the process, are all defined objectives.

However, it should not be forgotten that the application of electronic voting will help the voting citizen to exercise their right to vote more effectively and conveniently, as well as to seek to reduce some of the causes of abstention witnessed in Portugal during recent electoral events.

Electronic voting has already been tested in Portugal

In 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2005, four tests of electronic voting were carried out in Portugal, all of them non-binding.

The Technical Secretariat for Electoral Process Matters (STAPE) designed the first two programs in the municipal elections (1997 and 2001).

It should also be noted that face-to-face electronic voting produced substantial levels of voter participation, particularly among blind individuals, who could vote independently and not, as they currently do, with the help of another person.

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Can I vote online now?

In Portugal, electronic voting is not allowed. However, at polling stations, some tests of electronic voting have already been carried out and this is something that the Electoral Administration continues to evaluate, in collaboration with working groups around the world.

During the 1997 local elections, several polling stations in a parish in Lisbon were used for the first time to test electronic voting. A voting machine was used, with the ballot paper visible. So that each voter could vote at the electronic machine, they were given an electronic card reader, formatted and identified, as a voting key. The voter inserted the electronic card into an electronic ballot box, which recorded their vote. The result was then read and stored in the memory of the ballot box before the card could be used by another voter.

Some modifications were made to the system in the 2001 local elections, and pilot experiments were carried out for polling stations in a parish in the district of Lisbon and another in the district of Porto, which were not included in the official count.

In 2004, three different electronic voting systems were tested in 9 polling stations in 9 parishes in 9 different regions during the European elections. In the 2005 legislative elections, new technologies were used to help people with special needs to vote, and pilot projects were conducted. For voters registered abroad, an Internet voting experiment was also carried out. None of these efforts had any bearing on the official results.

Obstacles to the adoption of electronic voting

The Assistant Secretary of State and Internal Administration, Antero Luís, said in June 2021 that the main challenges to the use of electronic voting, which does not replace other types of voting that already exist in cyberspace, were identified by the organizers at a recent conference.

“Not all citizens have the digital mobile key, not all have an identity card with an electronic pin, not all have a set of capabilities from an IT point of view”, which “means that electronic voting is yet another way of voting” , which «will not dispense with any of the others», as «we cannot exclude the Portuguese who do not have computer tools», said Antero Luís on the same occasion.

The Secretary of State confirmed that the Portuguese authorities are committed to two areas: “on the one hand, encouraging postal voting, which is essential – and this implies changing the law – and, on the other hand, experimenting with electronic voting.

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3