The diffusion of internet voting. Usage patterns of internet voting in Estonia between 2005 and 2015


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ISSN: 0740-624X

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Type of work: Article (academic)


e-Democracy | e-Government & e-Administration


E-voting has the potential to lower participation thresholds and increase turnout, but its technical complexity may produce other barriers to participation. Using Rogers' theory of the diffusion of innovations, we examined how the use of e-voting has changed over time. Data from eight e-enabled elections between 2005 and 2015 in Estonia, were used to investigate changes to the profile of e-voters and contrast them to those voting by conventional means. Owing to the aggregate share of e-voters increasing with each election, with one third of voters now casting their vote remotely over the internet, there was a lack of conclusive evidence regarding whether the new voting technology had diffused homogenously among the voting population, or remained a channel for the resourceful and privileged. Our findings show that diffusion has taken place, but not until after the first three e-enabled elections. Thus, internet voting has the potential to be used by a wide range of voter types, bridge societal divisions, and emerge as an inclusive innovative voting technology.