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Belgium considers online voting in future elections

The study has to answer the question of whether or not it is possible to let citizens vote via the internet. Credit: Belga

The FPS Domestic Affairs has commissioned a feasibility study on online voting in elections at all levels in Belgium.

“By the end of this year the result should be there, but the final decision is, of course, political,” said spokesperson Koen Schuyten, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.

The study has to answer the question of whether or not it is possible to let citizens vote via the internet for local, provincial, regional, federal and European elections. Additionally, it also looks into whether or not online voting would be possible for Belgians abroad, according to news website Apache.

The investigation does not mean that the system will definitely be implemented, according to Schuyten, as the final decision lies with the government.

“We are now appointing a company, among other things to look at what is happening in other countries and to find out what the situation is, with regard to safety. The feasibility study will not be completed until the end of this year, and that would only form the basis for the government to make a decision if necessary,” he said.

Online voting is controversial, mostly due to safety reasons. As a result of plans and experiments worldwide, specialists have warned several times that the time is not (yet) ripe for online voting. However, “it should be possible” to introduce internet voting, should the government decide to do so, according to Johan Ackaert, a political scientist at the University of Hasselt.

“The big problem is that the system stands or falls with the question whether you can meet the constitutional obligation of the secret ballot,” said Ackaert, reports Bruzz. “Even if you work with an ID card reader, who will say it’s me who’s voting? And that I haven’t been pressured to hand over my ID card? That’s something that will have to be thought about,” he added.

Firms wishing to carry out the feasibility study have until 12 March to submit their tenders. The FPS Domestic Affairs hopes to appoint a candidate in April, said Schuyten.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times