Evaluation of System
Comprehensive evaluations of electronic voting and counting systems after an election can be critical for the long-term viability of these systems. The evaluation should take place not too long after an election and should involve a variety of data sources and electoral stakeholders so that a well-rounded assessment of the electronic voting and counting systems can be conducted. The EMB should have a mechanism for tracking and implementing evaluation recommendations in advance of the next electoral cycle.
A comprehensive evaluation of an electronic voting or counting system is critical to its success, particularly in the longer term. Only through an honest evaluation can the positive and negative lessons learned from the use of electronic voting or counting be captured to improve the process in the future.
An evaluation may be carried out by the project management committee or by another oversight body, or it may be contracted out to independent consultants. The evaluation should focus on the original objectives of the project and the extent to which those objectives have been achieved with the adoption of the electronic voting or counting system. Issues such as efficiency, usability, accessibility, accuracy, security and cost, among others, should be considered.
An evaluation may include several components, carried out by different bodies. Post-election surveys and focus groups can be a useful way to collect valuable information about voters’ experiences using the technology, if the jurisdiction has the resources to commission such an exercise. Partnering with a university may be a useful way to conduct such activities. The number of complaints received about the electronic voting or counting system and the nature of these complaints should also be evaluated.
Evaluators should seek to involve a broad range of stakeholders in the assessment of electronic voting and counting systems. Interviews should be conducted with voters as well as with election officials at various levels, candidate and party representatives, election observers and journalists to learn about their experiences with the electronic voting and counting and whether they have recommendations to offer for the future implementation of the system.
Evaluation reports should be made available to the public and can serve as the basis for post-election roundtable discussions about the project among stakeholders, with an eye to offering recommendations for future improvement. Facilitating broad post-election dialogue about the electronic voting and counting systems can help to promote transparency and public confidence in the process as a whole, and offer valuable lessons as well.
Once the evaluation process is complete, it is important that the findings are used to improve the process in the future. A mechanism should be designed to ensure that recommendations and lessons learned are considered and implemented promptly, in time for the next election cycle.