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Can the internet increase political participation? An analysis of remote electronic voting's effect on turnout


Bochsler, D (2009). Can the internet increase political participation? An analysis of remote electronic voting's effect on turnout. DISC Working Paper Series 08, Center for the Study of Imperfections in Democracy (DISC), Central European University, Budapest .

Abstract

There are far-reaching expectations that electronic democracy will increase political participation, and include previously underrepresented groups in politics. So far, however, there is little empirical evidence to monitor such trends. In 2007, Estonia became the first country to organize national parliamentary elections in which all voters had a choice of casting their vote at traditional polls, or over the Internet. This study analyses individual data from a special survey of 1000 respondents, as well as aggregated election results for, the 234 Estonia municipalities. Instead of attracting new voters, it seems, Internet voting mostly substituted for existing votes at the polls. Furthermore instead of attracting social groups that usually abstain from elections, Internet voting has for the most part attracted the same politically well-established groups. Finally, it seems that the effects of this new voting technology are not politically neutral: Internet voters favoured political parties that receive strong support from the ethnic majority and from wealthy areas. If it is to have any effect on political participation, Internet voting seems poised to increase inequalities, rather than level them.

There are far-reaching expectations that electronic democracy will increase political participation, and include previously underrepresented groups in politics. So far, however, there is little empirical evidence to monitor such trends. In 2007, Estonia became the first country to organize national parliamentary elections in which all voters had a choice of casting their vote at traditional polls, or over the Internet. This study analyses individual data from a special survey of 1000 respondents, as well as aggregated election results for, the 234 Estonia municipalities. Instead of attracting new voters, it seems, Internet voting mostly substituted for existing votes at the polls. Furthermore instead of attracting social groups that usually abstain from elections, Internet voting has for the most part attracted the same politically well-established groups. Finally, it seems that the effects of this new voting technology are not politically neutral: Internet voters favoured political parties that receive strong support from the ethnic majority and from wealthy areas. If it is to have any effect on political participation, Internet voting seems poised to increase inequalities, rather than level them.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Internet and democracy, political participation, turnout, Estonia, aggregate data analysis
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:04 Aug 2011 08:24
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:58
Series Name:DISC Working Paper Series
Number of Pages:35
Official URL:http://www.ceu.hu/sites/default/files/field_attachment/page/node-3320/bochslerdiscwp8.pdf
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-48907

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