Decision on Adoption
The decision on whether to adopt electronic voting or counting technologies should be a direct result of both the decision-in-principle and pilot project stages of the decision-making process. Regardless of whether the decision is to adopt, not adopt or conduct further pilots of technologies, the preliminary recommendation should be discussed with key stakeholders, and the reasons for the final decision should be well documented and shared with the public. A decision to adopt voting or counting technologies should ideally be based on successful pilots in different locations over time and should take into account lessons from those pilots.
The body authorized to make the decision on adoption, which may be the same body that conducted the earlier stages of the decision-making process, has a number of options available to it.
It may be decided that electronic voting and counting technologies do not meet the needs of the electoral environment, from a technical, cost-benefit, resource or stakeholder perspective, and that, therefore, the technologies should not be adopted. Even if this is the case, it is important that the reasons for the decision not to proceed with the technology are well documented in order to ensure accountability regarding the decision. This would provide the opportunity for the decision to be revisited in the future, if the factors supporting nonadoption change.
Alternatively, a decision might be made to adopt certain voting or counting technologies. This will likely only happen if the pilot is seen as successful and the anticipated benefits are achieved. Such a decision should not be based on a single small-scale pilot project, but ideally on the successful conduct of a series of pilots in different locations or over a period of time. Even where the decision is to adopt voting or counting technologies, it is important to recognize that there may be lessons to be learned from the pilot process and ways in which the voting or counting system could be improved when implemented on a larger scale.
The decision to adopt a voting or counting technology may also be implemented in a staggered manner, with some constituencies or regions adopting the technology first. However, while it may be beneficial to do so in order to manage the change more easily, this will entail different voting opportunities for different sets of voters. Some political actors might see this as problematic, if they view the opportunities presented by the voting or counting technology as being preferential to some voters, possibly along partisan lines.
A third alternative is that the pilot process should continue, with the final decision on adoption being delayed until further pilots can be reviewed. This option might be chosen in a number of scenarios: the pilots have indicated that an alternative technology that was not piloted might be more beneficial; the pilots were inconclusive; the pilots were not designed well enough to test the assumptions about challenges and benefits; or the pilot evaluation resulted in a revision of the specifications for the technology being assessed.
This third alternative highlights the fact that the feasibility process is not necessarily linear and may entail several iterations of pilot projects before a final decision can be made on the adoption of electronic voting or counting technologies.
Building the System for e-Voting or e-Counting