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Design Imperatives for E-voting as a Sociotechnical System

Online Voting System Project Application

Design Imperatives for E-voting as Sociotechnical System

A. Core Concepts E-voting is usually associated with the use of electronic devices such as Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and channels (like the Internet) for casting votes or balloting [9], [3]. E-voting is considered in [10] as digitization efforts related to e-government and e-democracy. In this line of thinking, e-voting will aim at digitizing the different stages of the electoral process including registration, balloting, verification and counting. According to Chung et al. [10], the possibility to vote remotely is one of the greatest benefits from e-voting since it potentially raises participation in the voting exercise. Qadah et al. [11] supports this assertion claiming that e-voting permits voters to cast their votes at any time from any location and using a variety of electronic devices. In addition, they believe that e-voting generally automates and simplifies the election process, increases participation rates, reduces counting mistakes and minimizes the time it takes to announce voting results. Different e-voting systems have been proposed and adopted to support voting process. This includes Computer counting, Direct Recording Electronic voting machine (DRE), Online Voting, Poll-site e-voting, Kiosk e-voting and remote e-voting [11], [2]. There are a number of key entities involved in any form of voting including e-voting. These entities include: Voter, Authority, Candidate and Adversary [3]. These entities could be very useful in developing voting model that may underpin an e-voting system. Voters are those eligible to vote by choosing among the Candidates. Candidates are usually pre­specified and often chosen by Voters in a private manner. In addition, final count has to be reliable and verifiable. Authorities are government agencies and offices responsible for conducting the election. An adversary is any malicious entity that attempts to manipulate the voting and tally. Sampigethaya et al. [3] further explains that External Adversary may coerce a voter or buy votes or passively breach privacy of voters. Internal Adversary on the other may try to breach privacy, modify or reveal the partial tally or corrupt the Authority. Designs of e-voting system must preserve important rights of voters and concomitantly prevent malicious activities. There are strict requirements for any e-voting system [10], [11][3], including: (1) Eligibility: ensure that only valid voters meeting pre-determined criteria are eligible to vote or take part in the election; (ii) Privacy and Anonymity: Ensure that no one can connect a ballot to its voter; (iii) Fairness: Ensure that votes obtained by each candidate cannot be known before the announcement of the election result, (iv) Verifiability: A voter should be able to verify if its vote was correctly recorded and accounted for in the final vote tally; (v) Uniqueness: must ensure that eligible voter can cast a vote only once in each election; (vi) Dispute-jreeness: must provide a mechanism to resolve all disputes in any stage. B. Socio-technical System Perspective Socio-technical systems focus on the impact of computer systems (technical system) on people and considers ways in which technology can be designed more effectively for people [7] in an organization. While there are many models describing the elements of a Socio-technical system, for instance see [8], three core elements socio-technical systems standout. These core elements include: Technical, Social and the Environmental subsystems. The technical subsystem comprises the devices, tools, and techniques needed to transform inputs into outputs towards the main objective of the system. The social element comprises the employees, knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and needs they bring to work environment as well as the reward system and authority structures of the organization. The Environment subsystem includes external entities, rules and regulations, which governs the relationship between the organization and the society at largel. Carayon[8] identified three critical phases for sociotechnical systems design, implementation and operation of STS. Code Shoppy However, the design of STS extends over time, continuing beyond implementation and throughout use. In addition, Clegg [12] prescribes a detailed set of 19 principles to underpin design of any STS. In the considering e-Voting as an STS, the goal is thus to explicitly address human, organizational and environmental fa ctors that are rarely considered in designing e-voting system, particularly in conditions where e-voting solutions are acquired and deployed without any fo rm pilot or experimental activities. Our goal in this paper is to offer a set design principles based on Clegg’s STS Design principles to guide the design, implementation and operationalization of e-voting solutions.

Clegg[12] identified three categories of principles for grounding STS design and related them to original work of Cherns in [l3]. The category of principles include: Meta­principles, Content principles and process principles. These principles are listed in Table 1 and explained in the context of e-voting, where possible concrete examples from the case of the Nigeria e-voting environment based on the information contained in the electoral act document [14]and cognate experience of one of the authors as lead ICT officer in charge of implementing e-voting solution in Nigeria in the 2011 General Elections The e-Voting STS depicted in Figure 1 is comprises three core subsystems that must be aligned for effective functioning of the whole e-voting system. The technical subsystem is modelled to include three major elements associated with the pre-voting, voting and post-voting phases of any election. The social subsystem aims at providing a participatory and iterative design activity involving potential voters and representatives of all major stakeholders. The aim of this is subsystem is to ensure that peculiar needs and concerns of the various user groups are considered in features of the respective elements of the technical subsystems. The environment subsystem stipulates rules and regulations (such as those specified in the Electoral Act) to ensure that the implementation of the technical subsystem is legally valid. It also ensures that the operation of the technical subsystem does not conflict with the values of the electorates, which varies with geographical locations in the case of Nigeria. Table I shows how these Clegg’s 19 principles elaborated in [12] affect the major e-Voting STS subsystems. Given the space limitation, more relevant principles were considered.

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