Development of ICTs (Information & Communication Technologies) brings about profound changes in society, from industrial and modern society to post-industrial and post-modern society. In political aspect, so-called 'electronic democracy' is one of the ...
Development of ICTs (Information & Communication Technologies) brings about profound changes in society, from industrial and modern society to post-industrial and post-modern society. In political aspect, so-called 'electronic democracy' is one of the main features of these changes. Renovation in decision-making system is emphasized, from hierarchical and central to horizontal and autonomous. E-democracy is regarded as either the substitute or the subsidiary for the representative democracy. Electronic voting is one method of e-democracy.
E-voting is voting supported by electronic devices. This can encompass electronic registration, electronic vote counting and channels of remote voting. The reasons for the adoption of e-voting are various: enhancing voter-turnout, decreasing the dead votes, and economizing the election management costs, etcs. Especially, the case of Florida in 2000 US Presidential election was very important and instrumental in promoting the debate on e-voting. This study focuses on the channels of remote voting.
Roughly speaking, e-voting is divided into two categories, PSV(Poll Site Voting) based on the places like poll-station and RVEM(Remote Voting by Electronic Means) based on Web and Mobile technologies. Nowadays, most countries adopting e-voting follows PSV vis-a-vis RVEM, with the exception of Switzerland and Estonia. Technical risks such as hacking, political consequence of digital divide and politico-economic efficiencies are cited as the main reasons for this.
This study tried to answer to the questions, 1) why each country adopt/not adopt e-voting, 2) why each country adopt different system of e-voting and 3) what are the political and social consequences of e-voting system adopted. Technological determinism will predict that each country's level of ICTs will decide the adoption level of e-voting. Whether mature democracies are more inclined to adopt e-voting remains as an inconclusive question. Our question starts from the proposition that the level of ICTs and democracy is not a good predictor for the adoption of e-voting system in each country.
Instead, we argue that social constructivist theory provides better explanation for the adoption of e-voting. Social constructivist theory emphasizes the interaction between technology and society, not just technology or democracy itself, as the focal determinants of the outcome. Technology and society interact on three levels: interest, idea, and institution. Interest is determined who will get/lose most in the (political) market place when certain technology is adopted. Idea determines who will occupy the hegemonic position in struggle for the public sphere and political space. Institution determines how technology is mediated to the market, society and politics. Our main argument is that the way how interest, idea, and institution interact will determine the degree and way of adopting e-voting in each country. This is the research question for the first year. E-voting is dependent variable and the way of interaction between technology and society (interest, idea and discourse, and institution) is independent variable.
Second year research question is what are the political and social consequences of e-voting. Does it improve voter-turnout, and decrease the dead votes Does it violate the four principles of voting, or not Independent variable is e-voting and consequence is dependent variable.
As a research method, we adopt comparative analysis, encompassing seven Asian and Western countries; USA, England, Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany, Australia, Japan, and Korea. Western countries are advanced and consolidated democracies and Asian countries are consolidating democracies. Some are highly advanced in ICTs while the others are somewhat lagging. With this comparison, we can discern the power of interest, idea, and institution in mediating the interaction between technology and society.