Overview of Electronic Voting and Counting Technologies

Traditional electoral procedures involving casting and hand counting paper ballots have come to dominate elections since their introduction in the mid-19th century. Technology increasingly offers new mechanisms for conducting traditionally-manual processes, and elections are no exception. There are many different technologies that can be used to support the electoral process. This guide will focus on electronic technologies that assist voting and the subsequent counting of votes. 

The current discourse on these technologies includes such terms as electronic voting machines, e-voting, e-enabled elections, new voting technologies (NVT), remote voting, precinct count optical scanning (PCOS), and e-counting. This array of terminology relates to different technological solutions. The field of election technologies concerning voting and counting is developing, and the conceptual framework is still emerging. Therefore, it is easy to find the same terms being used in different ways in different countries or regions, which can create confusion.

When discussing electronic voting, two separate, but sometimes related technologies are generally referred to – electronic voting and electronic counting. The traditional paper-based voting system consists of a voter manually marking the paper ballot and then the ballot being counted by hand by election officials. In elections using electronic voting or counting technologies, one or both of these processes are automated electronically.

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Framework for the Guide and Overview Section

 

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