POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Electronic Voting

Electronic voting or e-voting enables votes in an election to be cast and/or counted through electronic means. E-voting is an alternative to traditional forms of voting like postal voting or ballot box voting.

The term electronic voting summarizes several forms of voting which use modern information technology. On the one hand, the term includes the use of electronic devices to cast and count the votes, for example voting machines or vote counting machines. On the other hand, electronic voting procedures where the vote is cast outside of the polling place, like online voting, also fall under the umbrella of "e-voting".

E-voting experiences in North America

The United States are known for using voting machines, at least in part, in local, state and federal elections. In political elections, whether e-voting procedures are used or not depends on state law, and each state might integrate electronic voting into their elections in different ways. Private organizations and corporations can decide for themselves how they want to make use of e-voting.

The situation is similar in Canada, where many cooperatives already vote online to reach as many members as possible. Moreover, Canada has already trialled online voting in municipal and provincial elections in the last decade. On the federal level, online voting is not yet allowed but “the Chief Electoral Officer may carry out studies on voting, including studies respecting alternative voting processes, and may devise and test an alternative voting process for future use in a general election or a by-election” (Canada Elections Act, PART 2, 18.1).

See also: voting machine, online voting, postal vote, ballot box election, absentee vote

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