The CNSC will start a research project to inquire whether the implementation of Internet voting serves as a catalyst for the increase and promotion of equality in citizen participation

The CNSC will start a research project to inquire whether the implementation of Internet voting serves as a catalyst for the increase and promotion of equality in citizen participation

Electronic or Internet voting (I-Voting) is a system widely used in a variety of countries, organizations and procedures that has not been employed in any of the governmental elections in the Spanish political system. The CNSC has obtained one of the research grants on public administration and public policies for the year 2023 awarded by the School of Public Administration of Catalonia, in order to make recommendations and assess the possibility of its implementation in Catalonia. The main researcher of the project is the leader of the CNSC, Rosa Borge

For the development of the research, the proposal seeks to take into account experiences, successful or not, that have been carried out previously in various contexts. In Catalonia, such experiences have been developed in areas such as internal decision-making of political parties or in processes such as participatory budgeting. Regarding the analysis of experiences in official elections for representatives, it will be approached from a comparative perspective according to the evolution of electronic voting in countries where it is consolidated like Estonia, Switzerland or Canada. The research will analyze whether electronic voting enhances overall political participation, as well as with regard to the inclusion of sectors traditionally excluded from politics. The conditions to promote strong citizen trust and adequate accountability will also be analyzed.

The project brings together perspectives and disciplines, involving representatives from academia, public administration, civil society, the business sector and electoral and democracy observatories. The research will be conducted with the involvement of several academic researchers and international observatories (Jordi Barrat from the Rovira i Virgili University, from the Election Observation and Democracy Support of the European Union, and from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, and David Dueñas and Cid from the Gdańsk University of Technology). Additionally, mentors and researchers from the Public Administration (Núria Arbussà Reixach from the General Subdirectorate of Electoral Processes and Direct Democracy of the Generalitat of Catalonia), from civil society (Hungary Panadero Hernández and Josep Mañé Chaparro of the Ferrer y Guardia Foundation) and from specialized companies (Núria Costa Mirada and Adrià Rodríguez-Pérez of Scytl Election Technologies) will also be involved.

The various experiences that will be analyzed differ in key aspects such as the target, defining requirements, and platform contracts, among others. There is no definitive consensus on the appropriateness of voting online; the literature has identified both positive and negative elements. It is a solution that can save costs and shows apparent neutrality, just as there is evidence of increased participation in specific groups: population residing abroad, occasional or abstaining voters, young people, or even elderly voters. However there are also disadvantages such as the lack of a suitable legal framework, security risks, digital skills deficiencies, or citizens’ lack of trust. The project’s conclusions will seek to contribute to decision-making with evidence. The goal is to understand how different variables can affect the satisfaction and trust in technology, the legitimacy of the results obtained, and the increase and equality in participation. Additionally, the study will identify the main obstacles and costs associated with the transformation of processes due to the introduction of Internet voting.

Research grants on public administration and public policies of the School of Public Administration of Catalonia
Code: EAPREC/22/000016

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