Electronic elections implement the 1:N relation scheme where 1 stands for the electoral service and N stands for the electors which, one by one, cast in secret their votes directely to the service (1). At the end 1 says who got more votes.
Nobody, not even the electoral service, can know who voted each vote. Votes are anonimously collected, stored and counted by means of electronic devices.
It easy to see that in the above conditions the results of the 1:N relation scheme
Let´s just take an example: the very large building where you have your apartment, needs some maintenance. The chairman of the committee of apartment-owners in the building will benefit particularly by the work to be done and he is in charge of the ballot to approve the work and the expenses. We want the ballot to be secret, and he suggests to do as follows:
It doesn´t take much to imagine that the chairman could, perhaps, announce a decision that is the best option to himself. And no-one could ever prove that what was announced was not the truth. The chairman might even be able to recognise who voted for what by voice.
I´m sure that none of us would accept such a situation in our own building! And yet, that is exactly the situation with regard to the electronic vote!
With the electronic vote in politics, instead of the chairman above, we have:
The organisation plays exactly the same role as the chairman above: being an entity of the government of the day or a paid contractor (hoping for future contracts) the organisation has an inbuilt interest in the result.
It's easy to see that the uncertainity is not due to the technology used to transmit votes nor to store them, but it is implicit in the voting scheme.
So it is clear that such an electoral scheme, since its results are not verifiable, is intrinsically NOT suitable for political elections
For the sake of completeness we have to know that real electronic elections have much more problems!
In the above 1:N example only the chairman can act incorrectly; however, in a real voting situation we should use elecronics and computers to connect the N voters to the electoral service. In such a situation even outsiders can interfere with the result or can identify the voters. It is technically possible to fraudulently act at every level of the electronic polling mechanism: at the local computers in the polling stations, during the transmission of the votes to the organisation and at the central computer itself.
Thus in the elecronic vote many people and organizations can:
Much worse, if the network involves the Internet! This because all the problems described above become enormously more difficult to control if the network used is the Internet since attacks on the system could come from all over the world (e.g. viruses, Trojan horses, etc.)
Some very optimistic people suggest to vote from home without going to a polling station. This is the worst kind of electronic vote since, in addidion to the risks of the electronic vote and those associated with the Internet, it gives the possibility a person´s vote might be expressed under duress, with gangsters actually standing behind the voter. In some regions of the world this would be a real possibility.