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[THE FACT Politics] [Step vol. 1-3] "Mail and Internet Voting" that came to mind...the key to institutional trust

THE FACT  2024-04-08


Raising the need to guarantee the right to vote in accordance with the 'principle of ordinary elections'

29 'Introducing mail-in voting' among OECD member countries

Security concerns and political discussions remain in place


Democracy is contained in every precious vote of the people. An individual's small step to the polls can be said to be a big step toward democracy. One vote of the people is no different at home and abroad, but overseas referendums are still difficult. According to the National Election Commission, the turnout of overseas Koreans plunged from 45.7% in the 19th general election and 41.4% in the 20th general election to 23.8% in the 21st general election, before surging to 62.8% in the 22nd general election. However, this is a turnout of 92,923 out of the total 1.97 million overseas Koreans. The reason why the majority of overseas Koreans give up voting is that online and mail-in voting itself is impossible along with accessibility. <The Fact> examined the possibility of introduction and improvement direction through overseas cases of conducting voting by mail and Internet through the election report planning for the 22nd general election. <Editor's Note>

Overseas Korean voters point out that their right to vote is being undermined by the difficulty of the voting environment. President Yoon Suk Yeol visits the "Zkrypto" booth, which won the 2023 CES Best Innovation Award, at the Presidential Office Building in Yongsan, Seoul, on February 2, 2023, to hear about a blockchain voting app that utilizes Zero Knowledge Proof technology./Newsis


[The Fact - Reporter Park Sook-hyun] Overseas Korean voters have difficulty in exercising their right to vote due to time and physical constraints to get to the polling place than Korean voters. They say that even if they are away from their home country for a while, they should be properly guaranteed the right to vote in accordance with the principle of ordinary elections. Mail-in voting and Internet voting have emerged as alternatives. However, discussions on introducing the system are slow due to concerns over system security such as poor management and hacking, and voters' trust issues. There are complicated issues related to the logic of the political circles that overseas Korean voters' political tendency is concentrated in the base and the issue of "excessive representation."


◆ overseas is introduced by introducing mail voting lines, until the front of the Internet voting

The postal ticket refers to how the election rights will be recognized after the election, and the Internet investment will be recognized after the election, and the Internet investment for the specified period.


A Study on the Development of the Central Line Research Service Report "A Study on the Improvement of the International Election System" in 2020


How much are the two systems being used overseas? According to a report published in 2007 by the Democratic and Election Support Organization (IDEA), 115 countries have introduced overseas national elections, of which 45 countries (25 single and 20 combined) have introduced mail-in voting. According to the "Comparative Study of Election Systems in Each Country" published by the National Election Commission in 2022, a total of 29 countries are conducting mail-in voting in overseas elections. The United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Austria, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Litvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Turkiye.


Among these countries, Spain, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Sweden, Sweden, Sweden, and the United States.In addition, the country, which has adopted mail vote in a single way to a single way to government ( Germany, Ireland, Ireland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovakia.It is three countries such as South Korea, Czech Republic, Czech Republic, and Iceland.Denmark and Israel was found that there are only a separate law voting, and Greece, Greece has no specific laws for the election rights of foreigners.


In some cases, voting methods by mail are limited. In France, most overseas Koreans can participate in elections, including presidential election, parliamentary election, Senate election, European election, and referendum, but mail-in voting is only possible in the House of Representatives election and the French Confederation overseas.



In the case of Japan, when the overseas election system was introduced, voting by mail was only possible with exceptions, such as when the address was far from the overseas mission, but the revision of the law in 20003 expanded the scope of use to allow voting by overseas mission and mail without exception.



Countries that have introduced Internet voting are much rarer than mail-in voting. The United States, France, Canada, Australia, Armenia, Ecuador, Estonia, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates have also introduced foreign national elections to France, Armenia, Ecuador, Estonia, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates.


Estonia is the first country in the world to fully implement Internet voting. While making it mandatory to issue digital identification cards and developing a system to distribute and manage personal information data, the government established a legal basis by enacting a related election law in 2002 and introduced it for the first time in the 2005 local elections. An application provided by the National Election Commission is installed on a computer, and participates in Internet voting through personal authentication through digital identification or mobile ID. The contents of a voter's vote on a personal computer are encrypted and stored, and identification information with a digital signature is added on top of this, and technology that removes digital signatures from data transmitted to the central computer network and counts the results of anonymously encrypted voting has been applied. As of 2019, overseas Koreans scattered in 143 countries participated in the voting. In 2021, the revision of the election law has refined the system by checking whether Internet and offline voting are duplicated, and adding a rule that invalidates Internet voting if overlapping.



France has introduced Internet voting for overseas Koreans since 2009, but it is limited to parliamentary and consular representative elections. France has a separate House of Representatives representing overseas Koreans in 11 overseas regional constituencies, and Internet voting was only allowed in the elections to select them.


According to the "20th presidential election" conducted by the central election management Committee, including the Central Election Commission, and spatial constraints for re-election./ Central Election Commission


◆ Let's take a look at the effect...The rise in voting rate is insignificant, but the increase of usage trend

One of the parts expected to introduce mail or Internet voting.This is because the inconvenience of time and space constraints can participate in voting, it can be high possibility to participate in voting.In fact, according to the "20th presidential Election Commission" conducted by the Central Election Commission, the Financial Supervisory Service cited the most difficulties of the registration and spatial difficulties.In addition, it said that the electronic voting method, the most preferred ( 34.5 percent of the electronic voting method.


In the case of overseas elections in Japan, the proportion of choosing to vote by mail is decreasing. /Excerpt from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' 'Status of Overseas Elections'


What about countries that introduced the two systems first? In overseas cases, the effect of increasing the voter turnout of overseas Koreans did not appear significantly. However, it seems that many countries are using it as a means to realize the principle of ordinary elections by providing convenience to voters.



According to the 'Status of Overseas Elections in Japan' of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the turnout of overseas elections in Japan from the mid-term elections in 2000, when overseas elections were introduced, to the latest, has generally been in the early to mid-20% range. Even after the 2004 Upper House election, when the number of eligible voters by mail was completely expanded, there was no noticeable increase in turnout. There is also a tendency to decrease the rate of mail-in voting.



In Finland, the turnout for overseas elections rose slightly before and after the introduction of mail-in voting. According to Finnish election statistics, the turnout of overseas citizens in the 2011 parliamentary elections, 2012 presidential elections, 2015 parliamentary elections, and 2018 presidential elections were 10.6%, 13.9%, 10.1%, and 13.3%, respectively, and from 2019, when mail-in voting was introduced, 12.6% for parliamentary elections, 12.2% for 2023 parliamentary elections, and 16.3% for 2024 presidential elections.



Estonia, which has fully adopted Internet voting, has also not seen an increase in the overall turnout of overseas Koreans. There has been a significant change in voter turnout in France. In France, when Internet voting was introduced, the average turnout of overseas Koreans was 20.6 percent in the 2012 House of Representatives elections, but in 2017, when electronic voting was suspended, the average turnout was slightly lower at 17.7 percent. However, the proportion of overseas voters who use Internet voting in the two countries has steadily risen. Estonia recorded 2.0 percent in the 2007 general elections, followed by 3.9 percent, 5.7 percent, 6.3 percent and 7.8 percent. The number of local elections also increased from 2.8 percent in 2011 to 4.2 percent, 5.1 percent and 4.1 percent. In France, seven out of 10 overseas voters (77.94 percent) used Internet voting in the 2022 House of Representatives elections.


Estopia is a country that introduced the Internet vote in the world.On May 16, 2019./AP= NEWSIS


◆ Security concerns such as delivery accidents and hacking remain

The reason for the failure to dramatically increase the turnout even with the introduction of mail and Internet voting is attributed to the problem of voter trust in the system. The biggest problem with these systems is that the principles of secret elections can be damaged. In the case of mail-in voting, it is believed that there is a possibility of voting by force from family members or others as it is conducted outside the supervision and management of the Election Commission. A case in point is that U.S. President Donald Trump raised suspicions of fraudulent elections during the 2020 U.S. presidential election and even hinted at disapproval of the presidential election. Damage to voting sites, frequent delivery accidents and delayed delivery are also one of the factors that make voters anxious.



Internet voting is a major barrier to security vulnerability. During the 2017 overseas congressional elections, France decided to suspend Internet voting after experts from the National Information Security Organization raised concerns about cyberattacks. Even after it was reintroduced in 2022, system instability increased, such as errors in access to the Internet voting platform or poor sending of passwords. The United States also piloted Internet voting since the 2000 presidential election, but the introduction movement has been suspended since security issues and the risk of cyberattacks were raised among experts. They argued that the introduction of Internet voting was dangerous because security issues were not completely resolved even if technically supplemented, such as a blockchain system.


In the case of mail-in voting, there are problems such as delays in delivery, damage to ballots, and concerns over forced voting. A resident puts mail-in ballots in an official drop box in front of a library in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 27, 2020, one week before the 2020 U.S. presidential election./NEWSIS


Estonia, which has implemented the Internet voting system in full, has a relatively small population of 1.3 million, making it possible to manage the system, analysts say. In the case of France, the introduction of Internet voting was completely separated from domestic constituencies, and opposition was not significant. However, the fact that Estonia regularly conducts surveys related to elections to review social perceptions and current status of electronic voting and is making active efforts to increase the transparency of the electronic voting system suggests.



"Internet voting raises serious concerns about security vulnerabilities such as hacking possibilities, risk of manipulation of election results, and violation of the principle of secret voting," the National Assembly's Legislative Investigation Office said in a report titled "Online Voting Issues and Directions for Introduction of Internet Voting Systems" in December 2023. "This can lead to a problem of lowering voters' confidence in election results." "The most important part of introducing and establishing the Internet voting system is the trust of users such as voters, candidates, and election management agencies. Trust should be built among members of society as well as trust in technology," he said.


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