Will electronic voting take place in Albania?

Will electronic voting take place in Albania?

Tirana, 18 May 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

In Albania, there are more and more talks on electronic voting.

Initially, the idea for electronic voting was proposed several years ago by former Prime Minister Sali Berisha. There was even cooperation with former Soviet countries such as Estonia, which continued with a partial process. The process failed since the very beginning and as a result, there was no electronic voting in any of the constituencies in the last elections.

But now, the issue of electronic voting has risen once again by the right wing.  The leader of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha has decided to make this the first condition of the opposition to enter the parliamentary elections, expected to be held in June 2017.

Speaking for IBNA, Mr. Basha explains: “For the next elections, we will hold electronic voting, through the finger, in order for the ID cards not to be collected one night before and in order not to be asked for voters to take a photo of their vote”.

Basha offers more details about the DP platform: “The polling station must be equipped with electronic voting devices, where the choice of the political party is made by the voter through the screen. This choice then leads to the printing of a ballot paper with a security digital feature that guarantees the unicity of the ballot paper, the ballot cast by the voter and its secrecy. The ballot paper can be read by the voter before it is cast in the ballot box, but it cannot be taken away by him. The confirmation of the voter leads to the casting of the ballot paper in the box, while the vote is registered electronically in the memory of the voting device in order to guarantee the secrecy of the vote”.

Mr. Basha says that this system enables a safe identification of voters, the prevention of multiple voting or on behalf of other voters, it doesn’t allow obstacles for voters whose ID card has been withheld, it offers accurate voting, which reduces the number of invalid ballot papers and it also enables an immediate computation of the election result.

It seems that electronic voting will be one of the points that will receive much attention by the electoral reform commission.

Former Prime Minister, Bashkim Fino is the socialist co-chairman of the commission. He recalls the fact that the incentive of electronic voting failed in the 2013 elections, when a lot of money was spent. According to Fino, the Commission that he co-chairs must handle the mission given by parliament, namely intervention in the electoral code based on the recommendations of OSCE/ODIHR.

These institutions that monitor electoral processes in Albania have not made electronic voting.

However, the other co-chairman of the Commission, Oerd Bylykbashi says that the best way to put an end to these problems with the elections is to accept the opposition’s platform, thus the use of technology in the elections.

In spite of Bylykbashi’s stance, the majority hasn’t rejected it, but it is nonetheless skeptical.

“In principle we fully agree and we don’t have anything against electronic voting or electronic counting, but there must be absolute guarantees by the experts or the company that this thing is achievable”, Mr. Fino declares.

“For the application of electronic voting, a decision must be taken once the members of the commission examine it, given that the pilot project that was to be applied in the 2013 elections, failed”, he adds, referring to the fact that the electronic voting process failed even before it started in Tirana and Fier.

To make its request as convincing as possible, the DP held a meeting with other opposition parties.

The vice chairman of DP, Edmond Spaho said after the meeting with the allies that they were unanimously in favor of electronic voting. “In the framework of the joint efforts that we are making for free and honest elections, the meeting of the right wing coalition parties backed the practice of electronic voting and electronic ballot counting”, Spaho said.

In 2012, DP and SP agreed to implement a pilot project in Tirana and Fier for electronic voting. This project, which had a cost of several millions of dollars, failed completely. This cast serious doubts as to whether Albania is ready to apply advanced technology in electoral processes. /balkaneu.com/