Towards Internet Voting in the State of Qatar
2011-12-19T14:43:55Z (GMT) by
Qatar is a small country in the Middle East which has used its oil wealth to invest in the country's infrastructure and education. The technology for Internet voting now exists or can be developed, but are the people of Qatar willing to take part in Internet voting for national elections?. This research identifies the willingness of government and citizens to introduce and participate in Internet voting (I-voting) in Qatar and the barriers that may be encountered when doing so. A secure I voting model for the Qatar government is then proposed that address issues of I-voting which might arise due to the introduction of such new technology. Recommendations are made for the Qatar government to assist in the introduction of I-voting. The research identifies the feasibility of I-voting and the government s readiness and willingness to introduce it. Multiple factors are examined: the voting experience, educational development, telecommunication development, the large number of Internet users, Qatar law which does not bar the use of I-voting and Qatar culture which supports I-voting introduction. It is shown that there is a willingness amongst both the people and the government to introduce I-voting, and there is appropriate accessibility, availability of IT infrastructure, availability of Internet law to protect online consumers and the existence of the e government project. However, many Qataris have concerns of security, privacy, usability, transparency and other issues that would need to be addressed before any voting system could be considered to be a quality system in the eyes of the voters. Also, the need to consider the security threat associated on client-side machines is identified where a lack of user awareness on information security is an important factor. The proposed model attempts to satisfy voting principles, introducing a secure platform for I-voting using best practices and solutions such as the smart card, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and digital certificates. The model was reviewed by a number of experts on Information Technology, and the Qatari culture and law who found that the system would, generally, satisfy voting principles, but pointed out the need to consider the scalability of the model, the possible cyber-attacks and the risks associated with voters computers. which could be reduced by enhancing user awareness on security and using secure operating systems or Internet browsers. From these findings, a set of recommendations were proposed to encourage the government to introduce I-voting which consider different aspects of I-voting, including the digital divide, e-literacy, I voting infrastructure, legal aspects, transparency, security and privacy. These recommendations were also reviewed by experts who found them to be both valuable and effective. Since literature on Internet voting in Qatar is sparse, empirical and non-empirical studies were carried out in a variety of surveys, interviews and experiments. The research successfully achieved its aim and objectives and is now being considered by the Qatari Government.