Smart Cards are the Future of Voting

Photo by Avery Evans | Unsplash

Photo by Avery Evans | Unsplash

We have entered the age of electronic voting. With every passing year as manual, paper voting grows more obsolete, we as a country need to take steps to ensure the integrity of our electoral process. A voter’s identification and authentication play a vital role in ensuring that eligible voters can cast their votes and prevent fraud. In the last few years, electronic voting through the use of ‘Smart Cards‘ has become a trend worldwide. Smart cards provide a safe way to authenticate and identify users voting over the Internet and are an excellent way for people in their countries from remote locations. Smart cards are a promising way to conduct fair elections, and we should consider implementing them nationwide.

A smart card is a plastic card that has embedded integrated circuits. They can be used for payments, access control, application processing, and data storage purposes. When applied to electronic voting, they identify and authenticate voters, securely storing and processing voting data like signing or encrypting votes. For E-voting purposes, smart cards with microprocessor chips are generally used, which not only store data but have their own operating system to process data in response to the situation at hand.

There are are a couple of reasons why e-voting is increasingly becoming normalized. Firstly, it ensures that it’s only the eligible voters who vote once during the election. Secondly, it offers an easy and secure way to vote online from remote locations without physically coming to polling stations. Electronic voting technology can include punched cards, optical scan voting systems, and specialized voting kiosks. It can also involve the transmission of ballots and votes via telephones, private computer networks, or the Internet. All of these methods have their benefits and drawbacks. For example, electronic voting machines have revealed glaring defects like universal administrative passwords and antiquated security software. Separately, security experts have been able to crack open the vulnerability in internet voting easily. I contend that electronic voting with smart cards is the best approach for the following reasons:

Firstly, it is tough to manipulate. Smart cards use Integrated Processor (IC) to add, store, and delete personal data securely. During e-voting, this data can identify and authenticate voters before they are allowed to cast their votes. It allows maximum participation by letting all those away from their voting stations still vote from remote locations. Hence, it provides a fair representation of votes and results in a positive turnout.

Another reason is that the final results can be easily audited – allowing administrators to check that all user votes are issued correctly and according to the voter’s intention. For the voter’s satisfaction, a voting receipt can also be issued to them. Compared to the traditional paper ballots, it results in better and more efficient elections due to reduced implementation costs. There is little to no chance of errors in counting electronic votes, resulting in accurate and fast availability of results.

As with many advantages, electronic voting also has some downsides to it. The most obvious one is that everyone does not have access to the Internet, a computer, or even in a position to have a smart card. These physical hurdles may cause users to mistrust the transparency of electronic voting. People with old school thinking may still prefer traditional paper-based voting. An example of successful smart card voting was in Kazakstan in 2003. In 2003, the Kazakh Central Election Commission entered into a partnership with the United Institute of Informatics Problems of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus to develop an electronic voting system. This system, known as the Sailau Electronic Voting System saw its first use in Kazakhstan’s 2004 Parliamentary elections. Voters signed in to use the Sailau system were issued smart cards while holding the ballot to be voted. Voters then carried these cards to a voting booth, where they used the Sailau touch-screen device to record their votes onto the card. Finally, the voters brought their smart cards an electronic “ballot box” before the card was erased for reuse by another voter.

While keeping this in mind, the best way to utilize smart cards for voting would be to devise a system that allows for different casting votes. If countries integrate electronic voting with a design that uses paper and postal voting, they can utilize all the smart card strengths while simultaneously overcoming the weaknesses.

If implemented, electronic voting with smart cards can speed up results publication, increase ballot security, and make voting much more convenient. But if not implemented correctly, it can sabotage the entire purpose of the election process. It’s vital for fair and accurate elections that the electoral process is transparent, precise, and authenticated. Through the use of smart cards, I believe we’ll have a credible, trustworthy way of electing our democratic leaders.

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