Thursday, December 31, 2015

E-voting in South Korea expanded to corporate world

The adoption and widespread implementation of electronic voting technology in the election of government officials, presidents and other elected officials can oftentimes be hampered by the bureaucracy and party politics of public office. The technology is already here and it's ready, but some politicians are hesitant to that sort of change. And this is why some of the best advances may be coming from the private sector.

The private sector is inherently more agile and quickly adaptable to change than the public sector. Major corporations and multinational companies in particularly can reap many benefits from using e-voting technology within their own decision-making infrastructure. In the case of South Korea, it has now been announced by the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) that it will adopt electronic voting for its own internal processes.

Part of the motivation behind this move, according to an article in Business Korea, is to “act as a stimulus for the enhancement of voting rights of shareholders.” In many ways, the shareholders in a company are not dissimilar from the citizens of a particular country. The decisions made by executives and elected officials affect the shareholders and citizens directly, and thus the shareholders and citizens want to ensure that their opinions and preferences are heard.

KEPCO is not the first company in Korea to make this move, as some 452 Korean companies have already adopted e-voting as part of their own practices. This is according to the Korea Securities Depository and it reflects an astronomical increase compared to just 79 companies at the end of last year. This still only represents 19 percent of companies in the KOSPI and 24 percent of companies in the KOSDAQ, so much more progress needs to made among public companies in Korea to implement electronic voting.

The positive trend toward the higher adoption of e-voting among corporations and public companies is also being reflected in other parts of Asia. More specifically, e-voting was mandated for listing companies in Taiwan earlier this year. The popularity of e-voting in the private sector is growing and will quickly become the norm.

For elections in the South Korean government itself, progress has been slower. The country's people are generally more conservative in nature, though it did elect its first female president two years ago. This demonstrates some inclination toward a more progressive mindset, one that would be more amenable to the adoption of e-voting for public elections too.

At this time, elections in South Korea do not use technology for voter registration purposes, nor is an e-voting system used in elections for public office. It's quite possible that the growth of e-voting in the private sector, as demonstrated by KEPCO's announcement, will help to spur further development in the public sector too.

This is in addition to tests and demonstrations of e-voting in recent years that have further illustrated that Korea, a country rich in tradition yet definitely on the forefront of innovation with such heavy hitters as LG and Samsung, is ready to adopt e-voting on a more public context. It's ready to move into the 21st century.