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When technology is applied to any activity related to electoral administration and elections, it is important to consider carefully the electoral context in which the technology is used.
For example, if technology is being considered for vote counting, the guiding principles that apply to vote counting also apply to the technology. It is also good to keep in mind that electoral processes involve more than just operations and technology.
They include relevant laws, regulations and guidelines, social and political context, organisational culture, procedures developed to complement the technology and training of technicians and users.
Consider the impact of introducing new technologies When a new system is being considered to replace another, an evaluation is needed to assess the impact of the change on all stakeholders. Once the system is adopted, the transition phase needs to be carefully managed to ensure that problems do not occur and that all functions can continue to be effectively carried out.
These are some strategies that can be used by electoral administrators to minimize the impact of new systems, new technology and changes on electoral processes: Allow plenty of time for implementation and avoid startingavoid starting implementation too close to Election Day.
Keep in mind that implementation of a new project often takes longer than expected. Plan for new systems to be finished well before the earliest practicable election date and enforce cut off dates after which no system changes are allowed.
Have alternatives ready to be implemented in case the new system cannot be used for whatever reason. Manage information about the technology and changes so that stakeholders do not have unrealistic expectations and do not impose impossible deadlines. Avoid imposing a new, untried or unsuitable technology.
Schedule enough time to thoroughly test new systems. Provide training for staff and users as needed. A system implementation schedule can be influenced by whether there is fixed term or variable term election systems.
With fixed term elections, implementation schedules can be set around a known election date while with variable term elections, new systems should ideally be in place and ready to go before the earliest likely date for the election.
Maintain transparency and ensure ethical behaviour while adopting new technology Transparency, meaning openness and accountability, is a key feature for the credibility of democratic elections. An indicator of transparency can be the access by electoral observers, both domestic and international, to all procedures at every stage of the electoral process.
With manual processes, transparency is relatively straightforward, as the processes are usually visible and it is not difficult to provide meaningful access to observers. By contrast, with the use of some technologies it may be more difficult or even impossible for observers to testify that the outcome is correct.
Electronic voting systems are one example where in some cases it is almost impossible to insure that the vote that is registered is indeed the vote cast by the voter and, therefore, that the resulting vote counting is accurate. On the other hand, the use of technology may enhance transparency once the data entry into the respective system is proved to be accurate and large quantities of data can produce meaningful reports with very few errors.
With the use of technologies, transparency may have to be provided in completely different ways depending on the technology. This may involve the use of techniques, such as creation of audit trails, creation of log files, code verifications, digital signatures and compilation checks, among others.
As a result, the skills needed by observers of electoral processes using various technologies, may be completely different than those needed to observe manual processes.
To ensure transparency, the election management body may seek the assistance of specialized experts or auditors able to verify the accuracy of their systems and to provide special training to observers.
Related to the issues of transparency and trust, EMBs are expected to follow appropriate ethics when implementing new technology.
For instance, when choosing technology suppliers, EMBs are supposed to ensure that the tendering processes are fair and open, without favouritism or corruption and that all government purchasing procedures applicable to the selection of technology are followed.
When buying hardware and software, EMBs have to ensure that proper licences are obtained. Apart from the legal and ethical problems with using unlicensed or unregistered software, users also run the risk of not being notified of known bugs, software fixes or upgrades. Consider the security issues related to the new technology Computer systems used for elections must include high levels of security.
Unauthorised persons must be prevented from accessing, altering or downloading sensitive electoral data. Demonstrable security levels are another way of ensuring that election systems are transparent and trustworthy.
Various mechanisms exist to provide for computer security. These include password protection, encryption, verification programs and physical isolation.
To ensure that technological systems are trustworthy, there must be ways to test and verify that data is recorded properly and that the manipulation of this data produces accurate outputs. System accuracy may be tested by randomly entering known data into the system and verifying that the resulting outputs are correct.
In addition, for voting systems, a test is supposed to be performed to verify that the same set of data processed through several randomly chosen, similar but independent systems produces the same results.
On the whole, it would be expected that accuracy would increase as new and improved technology was adopted. Ensure privacy Electoral computer systems often contain sensitive personal data on large numbers of individuals, which can include names, addresses and other personal details. While many countries have privacy laws and policies that place restrictions on access to personal information, as a general principle, every person has the right to personal privacy.
Accordingly, security built into electoral computer systems should take account of the need to protect the privacy of personal data held on them. Audit trails can be built into systems containing personal data to track and monitor which individuals have accessed or modified personal data and to prevent any unauthorised invasion of privacy.In the section Ship Design Analysis we will examine what spacecraft warships will need, what they won't need, and what sort of tasks they will likely be required to perform.
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