Egypt will not use automated voting system for next election
Al Ahram is now reporting that Egypt will not use an electronic voting system for the upcoming elections.
Egypt’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Maged Othman announced in a press conference today that Egypt will not use electronic voting in the next presidential election.
Othman said electronic voting is currently too costly and requires extensive preparation to ensure the voting process is transparent and everyone is able to vote.
Othman also said Egypt will begin manufacturing the machines needed for electronic voting instead of importing them from overseas.
He added that currently the ministry is preparing the voting lists for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. The minister also said that Egyptians will be able to vote using their national ID cards both in Egypt and overseas and that Egyptian embassies will oversee the voting process outside of Egypt.
This seems like pretty good news all around. The ability for expats to vote, in particular is more than feasible and there was no great reason not to do it. I previously expressed my doubts about an electronic election process, but that was mainly when I was unsure of whether internet voting was a potential. I think Egypt is more than capable of a well-done automated election, but it takes time – more than a few months – to choose a system, ensure it works, train poll workers how to use, etc.
I’ve stated before that the debate over the merits of election technology is largely unimportant. Technology is a tool, not an independent actor. In most cases it amplifies intent; both deficiencies and capabilities become more apparent. Whether Egypt ultimately decides to use automated machines or paper ballots is less important than how they decide to structure their Election Management Body, and how well they administer their elections.