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Norway abandons e-voting trial while UK presses ahead with similar scheme

Norway has abandoned an e-voting trial after worries over the outcome of individual votes becoming public at a later date and the failure to trigger an upturn in voter turnout just after the UK decided to press ahead with e-voting.

Related: E-voting call after election night fiasco

The country rolled out the trials in 2011 and 2013 for both local and national elections and it’s feared that if votes ever became public then it could undermine the entire democratic process.

A statement from Norway’s Office of Modernisation confirmed the experiments are ending despite there being a “broad political desire” to allow people to vote over the Internet, the BBC reports.

2013, in particular, was criticised due to the fact that just before voters went to the polls the encryption scheme that protects votes being sent digitally was attacked and software experts asked for the entire system to be rewritten with tighter data protection in mind.

One report examined how successful the 2013 vote was and just 70,000, or 38 per cent, of the 250,000 people eligible to vote online did so and it stated there was no evidence that new groups, such as young people, were persuaded to vote.

A separate report by the Norwegian Institute for Social Research also expressed concerns that voting took place in “uncontrolled environments” and that this weakens the fact votes should be cast in secret without any outside influence. It also found that there was a morsel of evidence to suggest that around 0.75 per cent of people were able to vote twice in 2013 – once at a polling station on paper and once online.

Norway’s decision comes just after the head of the UK Electoral Commission, Jenny Watson, expressed her desire for the UK to move forwards with e-voting and even with these damning results it remains unlikely the UK will be deterred.

Image Credit: Flickr (Secret London)