Electronic voting against paper "carousel"

Numerous facts of illegal dumping of ballot papers prepared in advance, sometimes in bundles, as well as cases of conspiracy between unscrupulous participants in the election process and the chairmen of district and precinct election commissions that have become public, show that the methods used to prevent fraud "do not work." The whole election process in Azerbaijan takes place with the direct participation of a large number of people interested in distorting the voting results. Teachers, housing and utilities workers, and librarians, hired by the state to conduct elections, have become the targets of fierce public criticism. There is the notorious “human factor”, to prevent which in other socially significant processes the Azerbaijani government uses electronic methods, collectively called “electronic government”. The public sees the work of these mechanisms by visiting the popular ASAN Khidmet Centers (service for simplified access to documents), the creation and dissemination of which the Azerbaijani leadership considers its outstanding achievement.

Outside ASAN Khidmet, an ordinary citizen sees the efficiency and ease of use of modern means every day, using plastic-electronic cards to pay for purchases in stores, utility bills, identifying his personality when passing through automatic checking devices, etc. If the development of the IT sphere in Azerbaijan has reached such a level that any citizen, being at home or abroad, can send any money bills to a desired point in the world, why is the new technology not used in elections.

In Azerbaijan, government officials do not say about the modernization of the election process with the introduction of IT technologies, the CEC website does not have information about such work. Our country runs the risk of being late, because in Russia the development and testing of electronic voting technology is underway, and in Estonia, electronic voting has already been used.

The website of the Russian CEC reports that in this country, promising methods and technologies for remote electronic voting are being developed for implementation in Russian election practice. The CEC of Russia conducted a series of experimental polls of voters. Moreover, in the distant 2008-2009, at the municipal elections in the Vologda, Tomsk, Vladimir, Volgograd regions used social payment cards and mobile communications. This technology was refined and used during electronic voting at the Selistart 2009 youth forum in the Tula region and the Seliger 2009 All-Russian youth educational forum, and on a single voting day on October 11, 2009, an experiment was conducted on electronic polling of voters using mobile communications in Kingisepp, Leningrad Region. All experiments performed show that voters are loyal to the prospects of introducing electronic voting.

A group of deputies from the Liberal Democratic Party and the United Russia party proposed to introduce electronic voting in the elections to the Moscow City Duma in 2019. So Russia could become the second in the world after Estonia, where such technology is used in elections.

At the parliamentary elections held in Estonia on March 3, 2019, 247,232 people, or 28% of voters, participated in electronic voting.

In the spring of 2019, it was reported that the Moscow authorities decided to take the first step into the future and conduct an experiment on electronic voting in the elections to the Moscow Duma. “If we want to move forward, we have to take risks. Let us be the first to take these step, become leaders. We’ll fill up the cones, but we will be the first,”said Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on March 6 during a speech at the Ninth Moscow Civil Forum. Interestingly, the Moscow opposition is not happy with innovation.

Critics of electronic voting cite US experience. After scandalous recounts in the 2000 presidential election, electronic scanners were introduced almost everywhere in polling stations. Hand counting without a scanner has remained in New Hampshire and some Virginia counties. The well-known “ballot papers with holes” that had to be punctured in front of the chosen candidate and because of which there were doubts as a result of the presidential election in Florida, have long been canceled. The machine counts, but if in doubt, a manual recount is carried out, and there are ballots that can be counted. Such recounting is mandatory if the difference between the candidates' results is less than 0.25%. In the last congressional elections in November 2018, such a recount was carried out several times. In particular, in the election of a senator from Florida, where Republican Rick Scott beat Democrat Bill Nelson by 12,603 ​​votes, or 0.14%.

Critics of new technologies care about the secrecy of the voter, who does not want his choice to be fixed, and remain in electronic memory subject to the state. They also talk about the possibility of hacker attacks that affect the election results. However, the current traditional system of conducting elections and counting of votes demonstrates no less dangerous and simpler methods of manipulation, without the use of plastic cards and cell phones: groups of employed voters who vote for those who pay are brought to polling stations on buses (“carousel”).

The CEC of Azerbaijan has something to think about, and it is time for political parties to offer the government and voters modern methods of preventing election fraud.

Turan conducted a survey among Facebook users, requesting the opinion of readers about the possibility of introducing electronic voting in Azerbaijan.

Victor Sapunkov: That would be super, and falsifying the result would be difficult. Another plus, wherever a citizen of Azerbaijan is, he can vote freely using the electronic system. In addition, these are additional voices.

Telman Samedov: Transition is possible, but those who are at the top will not like it.

Yalchin Balaoglanov writes that for such a system to work, citizens must be able to use electronic cabinets, and the state must first change the election law. However, in Azerbaijan, Ali Taghizadeh writes, only ten percent of citizens can use this system. The paper newsletter is simple; you do not need to learn how to fill out it. Yalchin proposes to introduce the system of pressing the voter's finger on the electronic screen used in Kyrgyzstan. This system, he writes, ruled out election fraud in Kyrgyzstan.                                                             

Programmer Nail Veliyev wrote that creating an online voting system is not difficult. However, who will check 1) its quality of work 2) who will guarantee that at the time of the election the number of votes in favor of the “necessary” candidates will not be multiplied at the program level? That is, roughly speaking, in favor of the candidates there will be the same cheating of votes as unscrupulous editors do by winding up the counter for viewing their site.

Ali Tagizade: And if there is a glitch in the voting? Remember many thefts, failures; attacks on electrical systems, cyber-attacks happened in the world and their consequences. We must not forget that there may be interference from other states. Developed to the impossibility of IT countries do not allow themselves this, but here we are where 70% of the population does not understand this at all. The electronic voting system is very vulnerable and unreliable, I say as an IT specialist. Estonia is 10 times smaller than we are, their system does not suit us. Everything can be made much simpler. We need closed containers, sealed and which cannot be cracked without visible signs, anti-vandal. Near these boxes to put representatives from parties and candidates, as well as outside observers. After filling in the ballot boxes, take them to the regional headquarters and there, under the supervision of the same representatives, open the boxes, count the votes and send the data to the CEC. All channels for bastards at polling stations are excluded, there remains only bribery, which all and the relevant authorities must fight. No extra costs, 100% control. The simpler the system, the more reliable it is, all the innovations only weaken it.

Politician Tofig Yagublu believes that electronic voting is convenient for falsifying the voting results, since the brain of the electronic system will be in the possession of power.

Journalist Irada Isak reported that the site Azxabar.az conducted an electronic vote in which the winner was Haji Madar. Upon seeing this in the morning, the site ceased operation of its "electronic polling station."

According to Vusal Azayev, the use of mobile phones in the elections violates the secrecy of the vote, since the police know who owns the phones, and all mobile phone companies are controlled by the authorities.

Tair Orujov also doubts that by using mobile phones it will be possible to keep the secret of choice among candidates. However, Kamil Bayramov fears that, for fear of divulging the secrets of choice, citizens simply will not vote.

The economist Sabit Bagirov recalled the invulnerability of the block-chain technology system. “I do not think that the authorities do not know this. However, will it introduce it? ”

Nazakat Zeynalli recalled the work of the MIDA state website on the distribution of social housing among Baku People. At first, the site crashed, did not open, which caused doubts among residents about the objectivity of its work.

Shahin Jafarli: with electronic voting it is easier to falsify, moreover, it is difficult to identify an attacker. Shahin is convinced that the matter is not what voting methods should be applied; it is the presence or absence of the government’s political intention to hold fair elections.

The lawyer Vagif Hajibeyli informed us about the need for serious changes in the election legislation. Election observers must be given the right to vote, and perpetrators of election violations on February 9 should be held criminally liable.

Two more characteristic opinions:

Assad Abbas: The amount of rot and corrupt sneaks is off the charts. It is very hard to do anything. So far, not an equal battle. God help us!

Ali Taghizade: If you act wisely, then it is easy to cope with them, just do not give them the opportunity and access, interfere in the vote and everything, having lost this, they are already zero and do not affect anything.

Finally, important information from the journalist Seymour Kazimov, who was in Estonia in December and reports that 44% of voters were covered by electronic voting there. Estonians recognized that a complete transition to a new method is impossible.

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