Online Voting and Sustainability

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Dr. Jannis Beger

Did you know that paper ballots were first used in Rome in 139 BC?

With that in mind, it seems like it’s about time for an upgrade to online voting. As it stands, electronic voting and counting systems are on track to implement elections in an efficient and cost-free manner. Although electronic voting is relatively new and subject to government approval, it’s already clear that its benefits outweigh the demerits.

Notwithstanding, online voting systems, like every new technology, must prove their sustainability before public acceptance. So far, it has done just that. Considered expensive by many, online voting is the most environmentally friendly option when it comes to elections. Here’s why:

Online Voting is Environmentally Friendly.

According to the National Democratic Institute (NDI), there are a number of contributing factors to the long-term sustainability of implementing electronic voting and counting, including financial aspects, project management, and staffing arrangements. Essentially, the absence of paper makes using online voting systems a wise choice, as it prevents the incessant waste of natural resources and reduces pollution in the environment.

When compared with other voting methods, on a scale of environmental impact, online voting wins the lot (literally). Paper ballots use up a lot of paper and require people to drive miles to polling places, adding to the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Mail-in voting requires the disposal of mail ballots after use, driving up landfill waste.

On the other hand, online voting eliminates the need for paper and a polling place. Voters can vote electronically. While this drives up the power bill, the environment is saved from avoidable pollution. According to a study by Polyas, online voting reduces CO2 emissions by up to 98%. In conclusion, online voting is considerably better for the environment than paper ballots.

The Future is Paperless Elections.

Much more evidence points to the sustainability of online voting, such as reusing login credentials for subsequent elections. The devices for voting is already owned by voters in the form of smartphones and computers. A stable internet connection is simply required, which only contributes a measly 1.3% of global CO2 emissions.

As cyber security protocols improve every day, we can agree that online voting is the least wasteful and most secure way to ensure that all votes are properly accounted for and well protected.