“With the use of digital envelope, voter privacy is protected at all times. Every voter can individually verify that his/her vote has been properly counted by means of voting receipts. The voting receipt is designed in such a way that it does not allow coercion or vote-selling”, says Raymond Teo, Director of Sales for the Asia Pacific region, Scytl (raymond. email@example.com), in an exclusive interview with egov magazine
How is your company engaged in e-Government initiatives?
Scytl is a software company specialised in application-level cryptography and a worldwide leader in the development of secure e-Voting/e-Participation solutions. Scytl works closely with related Government agencies to provide e-Democracy solutions such as electronic voting and citizen consultation programmes.
Tell us something about your e-Voting solutions. Which are the countries they have been deployed?
Our company has developed Pnyx, a family of products that enable all kinds of electoral processes (elections, referendums, consultations, labour union elections, shareholders’ meetings, etc.) to be carried out by electronic means with the same level of trust, security and privacy that exist in conventional paper-based elections, and with the advantages that electronic systems can offer: accessibility, flexibility, cost and speed in the tallying of votes.
With over 12 years of R&D experience in the field of electronic voting, Scytl has become a worldwide leader in the development of secure multi-channel e-Voting solutions with customers in Europe, Americas and Asia-Pacific that are leading references in the electronic voting industry. Our e-Voting solutions have been used in countries such as Spain, Switzerland, Finland, United Kingdom, Argentina, Mexico and Australia.
Based on the experiences from these countries, tell us briefly some of the success stories.
State of Victoria (Australia): Scytl, in partnership with HP, carried out the first e-Voting elections in the state of Victoria (Australia) during their parliamentary election in November 2006. In this election, blind and visually impaired voters could, for the first time, cast votes from electronic voting terminals with total privacy and without needing the assistance from third parties.
Canton of Neuchâtel (Switzerland): The Swiss Canton of Neuchâtel selected Scytl’s technology to enhance the security of its electronic voting system available at their e-Government portal (Guichet Sécurisé Unique). This platform is one of the only two permanent Internet voting platforms in the world for binding elections and consultations. The platform is used to carry from three to six citizen consultations and elections each year.
City of Madrid (Spain): In 2004, the City of Madrid chose Scytl’s secure multi-channel e-Voting platform to carry out ‘Madrid Participa’, one of largest e- Participation events in Europe. Over 136,000 citizens had the opportunity to vote on a number of political issues through a variety of voting channels ranging from polling stations equipped with electronic voting terminals to mobile devices. After this initial experience, the City of Madrid has continued using Scytl’s multi-channel e-Voting platform and, for example, it carried out 21 e-Consultations during 2006, involving nearly 3 million citizens.
The aim of the democratic nations is to ensure free and fair elections. How efficient and secure are the e-Voting solutions?
Scytl provides e-Voting solutions for all types of electoral processes with the same levels of trust, security and transparency that exist in conventional paper-based elections. Using split knowledge and asymmetric cryptography, the whole electoral process is controlled entirely by the Electoral Board and cannot be manipulated by system technicians. Digital signatures and other open cryptography protocol are used to ensure that only strongly authenticated voters are allowed to participate in the voting process. With the use of digital envelope, voter privacy is protected at all times. Every voter can individually verify that his/her vote has been properly counted by means of voting receipts. The voting receipt is designed in such a way that it does not allow coercion or vote-selling. The solution ensures full integrity of election results, preventing the modification and deletion of votes, and the addition of bogus votes and secrecy of partial results is guaranteed.
Tell us about your penetration in the Asian market and what are some of your future plans for developing countries especially in South Asia and Africa.
The rapid increase in implementation of electronic voting in Western Europe and United States is closely watched by the rest of the world. Scytl’s e-Voting technology is designed to be highly secure and scalable to achieve economies of scale. With a flexible deployment and procurement model, the cost barrier of implementing e-Voting in developed countries is low. The important benefits provided by e-Voting at no additional cost to the government are likely to attract more deployment in South Asia and Africa.
We opened an office in Singapore for the Asia-Pacific region a few months ago and we have already closed contracts in the Philippines and Australia.
How do you think private partners can add value to e-Government?
In recent years, there is a rise of “Public Private Partnership” (PPP) programme worldwide for e-Government projects. This clearly indicates that there is an interest in collaboration between government and private business at a deeper level. Private partners can definitely bring value to e-Government projects as they have important takeaways from other similar project experiences.
What do you think will be the big issues in e-Governance in the next five years?
There are many e-Governance initiatives that are on-going such as government- government, government-citizen services. However, many are silo services which are not interoperable. The next five years could see development in establishing a common identity and protocol for delivering e-Government services.