In electronic voting, an electronic device is used by the voter to make and record their ballot choice. The choice is either recorded on the machine itself, or the machine produces a token on which the choices are recorded. The token is then placed in a ballot box (internal or external to the machine). The token can be a printout of the ballot choice, or the ballot choice can be recorded on another medium. For example, in Belgium a magnetic card has been used for this purpose. Electronic voting devices include voting machines placed in polling stations (sometimes referred to as direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines), SMS voting and Internet voting.
There are two other distinctions (Figure 1) to be made when it comes to electronic voting machines, which are also important in implementation:
- Remote and non-remote voting machines
- Supervised and unsupervised environments
It is possible to combine remote voting with supervised environments, for example, Internet voting computers set up in polling stations. This allows polling staff to verify the identity of voters by using voter lists before allowing them to vote, and to ensure secrecy of the vote – two significant challenges with other forms of remote voting.