E-voting experiments end in Norway amid security fears

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E-voting in Norway did not boost voter turnout, suggests a report into online trials

Norway is ending trials of e-voting systems used in national and local elections.

Experiments with voting via the net were carried out during elections held in 2011 and 2013.

But the trials have ended because, said the government, voters' fears about their votes becoming public could undermine democratic processes.

Political controversy and the fact that the trials did not boost turnout also led to the experiment ending.

In a statement, Norway's Office of Modernisation said it was ending the experiments following discussions in the nation's parliament about efforts to update voting systems.

The statement said although there was "broad political desire" to let people vote via the net, the poor results from the last two experiments had convinced the government to stop spending money on more trials.

The 2013 trial was also controversial because immediately prior to the election, criticism was levelled at the encryption scheme used to protect votes being sent across the net. Software experts called for the entire voting system to be rewritten to better protect data.

A report looking into the success of the 2013 trial said about 70,000 Norwegians took the chance to cast an e-vote. This represented about 38% of all the 250,000 people across 12 towns and cities who were eligible to vote online.

However, it said, there was no evidence that the trial led to a rise in the overall number of people voting nor that it mobilised new groups, such as young people, to vote.

The report by Norway's Institute of Social Research also expressed worries about the fact that online voting took place in what it called "uncontrolled environments". This, it said, undermined the need for a vote to be made in secret without anyone influencing the voter as they made their choice.

It said there was also some evidence that a small number of people, 0.75% of all voters, managed to vote twice in 2013. They did this by voting once online then travelling to a polling station to cast a paper ballot.

Norway has made its decision soon after Jenny Watson, head of Britain's Electoral Commission, said the UK should move more swiftly to adopt e-voting as it could help arrest a decline in the numbers of young voters.

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