We are set to see many major elections all around the world in 2012. Not surprisingly, the technology involved continues to evolve and change with the times, including a greater adoption of electronic and digital voting systems. These changes could have a dramatic impact on how the elections turn out.
The Rising Influence of Social Media
The 2008 US Presidential election proved that the Internet can be a huge source of support for candidates. Social media efforts by the then candidate Barack Obama are credited for a substantial part of his eventual victory. Four years have passed since then and social media is more prevalent than ever.
For instance, there is a new Facebook campaign that asks voters "What Matters Most." Here, voters can prioritize the three issues that they care about most and have these issues showcased in New York City's Times Square. Similarly, the growth of Twitter, YouTube, and other social networks will have a greater impact on how people choose their candidates.
The Expansion of E-Voting in Latin America
While electronic voting has already been used in countries like Venezuela and Mexico, e-voting systems will continue to expand throughout Central and South America in 2012. There will be more automated voting in places like Peru, for instance, as well as the implementation of automatic tallying in the Dominican Republic.
Similar changes are expected to take place in Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela and beyond. In the case of Paraguay, there is a push toward allowing citizens living abroad to vote remotely, a law that would lend itself to an e-voting paradigm over the Internet rather than through postal mail or via embassies.
E-Voting with iPads in United States
During a special election in November 2011, the state of Oregon allowed disabled voters to cast their ballots using a specially equipped Apple iPad. This is said to continue for 2012, paving the way for the use of even more technology as part of the electoral process. Oregon, among 10 other states in the USA, will also allow residents to register to vote online, rather than having to complete voter registration in person or by mail.
The electoral system in the United States is incredibly complicated, as each county determines its own way to conduct the vote. As such, e-voting takes place in some counties, but not in others, and even those that do participate in e-voting may use considerably different systems. For instance, Long Beach California city officials used RFID chips on ballot boxes to track their movement.
Electronic Voting Abroad
More e-voting is expected elsewhere too, with online voting being planned for Bridgewater, Nova Scotia in Canada. Electronic voting is being welcomed in Botswana, as well as other African states. Kenya has had e-voting for some time and Ghana is planning for e-voting by 2016. Belgium has signed a 10-year contract for automated voting as well.
The digital vote may still be somewhat disjointed in its application around the world, but the same can be said about more conventional ballots too. That said, technology continues to evolve, become more reliable, and offer greater security and accuracy than ever before.