Arguments Against

Voting has progressed in technology from traditional days when voters dropped votes marked on a shell, shard of pottery, or card into a box to the current days where voting is controlled by electronics and the processes leading to the vote remain unseen to the human eye. Despite the change in method of voting, the basic facets of good voting tactics remain the same: ensuring one vote per voter, maintaining voter anonymity, accuracy of vote, security of the system, and prevention of fraud.

This is where the problem lies in many arguments against electronic voting – opponents do not feel that the voting basics can be maintained in an electronic voting system. The arguments have been divided into 3 general categories of complaints: issues with the technology, vast possibilities of fraud, and protection of voters and their votes.

As Bruce Schneier describes it, technology adds more steps to the process and thus increases the possibility of error with each additional step, all of which are largely unseen by the voter. Put Murphy’s Law of ‘whatever can go wrong, will go wrong’ into play, and one can surmise that technology will most likely falter. Not only does the technology create more errors in the electronic workings, but the voters can also commit mistakes due to confusion with the user interface. The terminology is confusing, different machines produce different interfaces, and even the audio guides to help the disabled may prove more confusing than helpful.

With the advent of electronic machine voting also comes the higher possibilities of fraudulent machines and practices. First of all, the technology is “black box software,” meaning that the public is not allowed access into the software that controls the voting machines. Although companies protect their software to protect against fraud (and to beat back competition), this also leaves the public with no idea of how the voting software works. It would be simple for the company to manipulate the software to produce fraudulent results. Also, the vendors who market the machines are in competition with each other, and there is no guarantee that they are producing the machines in the best interest of the voters and the accuracy of the ballots.

Lastly, vote accuracy is also an issue, because voters have no way of confirming there vote, and there is also no way of conducting a recount with direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting. With DRE, there is no paper trail, no verification, and thus no scrutiny of the processes. Voter anonymity is also a problem. Voters have to provide much of their personal information to the systems for voter verification, and with that comes the problem of keeping voter information safe and keeping voters anonymous.

The cons against electronic voting laid out here are only some of the arguments against electronic voting. However, they are a good reflection of the ethical and technical concerns related to the issue of electronic voting.

© Gloria Lin and Nicole Espinoza 2007

Stanford University

Electronic Voting


Arguments in Favor

Arguments Against

Case Studies

    The United States



Further Information

Source: Anonymous/ Wikipedia Creative Commons