Ecrit par Elhossain ELAIMANI (Stagiaire)
As the professional world begins to adapt to the pandemic, the wave of digitalization becomes a Tsunami with this context. Where once people saw digitalization as a luxury, they now see it as a necessity, even in politics. Because if previous attempts to revolutionize democratic processes often ended in failure, there is in this context a chance to implement digitalization once and for all. And what better way to make democracy accessible to all than electronic voting, or at least its remote form.
As for teleworking, it is far from being a new idea, as it has been applied in many countries. However, electronic voting comes in several forms, the most common and with mixed results is the terminal placed in the voting office. The movement of the voter is essential in this case. This brings us back to the Internet voting processes. They use processes similar to those of the specialized voting kiosks, except that these means are accessible from any device connected to the Internet. Voters vote regardless of their location, whether they are at home, at work, in an airport, or in an Internet café.
All they have to do is log on to the official voting site, which is hosted on a dedicated server, fill out the login forms with the credentials provided by the election organizer, and then make their choice on the dedicated voting page. The operation is performed more or less as if it was done on a specialized terminal in a polling station. The common element to these voting processes (phone call, SMS, website) is that the whole electoral process is managed by a specialized server, and requires no travel.
With professional elections underway in Morocco, this approach could be ideal for the smooth running of operations, especially in this period of COVID-19, and is perhaps the opportunity to generalize this process for all types of elections. Of course, one must always moderate one’s expectations. For if this solution has already existed for two decades without proving its efficiency, its potential is still very promising. Nevertheless, one may wonder about the capacity of Morocco to implement such logistics in all electoral processes. When you look at all the facets of the polygon, you realize that it is much more obvious than it seems.
First element to consider, the digitization process initiated by Morocco since 2017. The Maroc Digital 2020 Strategy, is based on three essential pillars: the digital transformation of the national economy, improvement of the national digital ecosystem and positioning Morocco as a regional hub and African leader in this domain. This strategy aims to encourage the deployment of digital tools and the promotion of their use among the population, even for administrative services. In this perspective, the Moroccan administration is called to modernize to offer users better services.
This implies a more than necessary transition to digital platforms, allowing to streamline administrative processes. This fluidity will allow citizens to better manage their administrative situation, without the need to make expensive and unnecessary trips. The E-GOV pillar of the Maroc Digital strategy plans to make more than 50% of administrative services digital. The integration of electronic voting or more precisely online voting should therefore be done with a certain fluidity, without encountering major technical problems.
Speaking of major problems, it is rather politics that is likely to be a major obstacle. For if all the technical parameters are available, there will always be opponents of progress ready to spoil a project just for a little visibility. There are certainly convincing arguments to support their points of view. Some will say that with an illiteracy rate of more or less 43%, it is already difficult to vote using conventional methods, others will say that if some lower social classes do not have access to electricity or drinking water, will they have access to the Internet on voting day? If they do have access, will they know how to vote? So many arguments that can only be refuted by the facts.
According to a survey conducted by the ANRT in 2018, more than 74% of Moroccan households have access to the Internet, and more than 93.5% of Moroccans have cell phones. If the pandemic has had any impact on the technology sector, it is only positive. One only has to visit the specialist retailers to see the stock-outs of several types of connected devices. Regardless of the current numbers, they must be much higher than the 2018 numbers. And then electronic voting does not exclude physical polling stations, made available precisely to people unable to vote via a connected device.
With the tight pandemic restrictions being gradually loosened up, this strategy would not only allow for higher participation rates, but would significantly reduce crowding at the polls, which has only advantages. Speaking of advantages, it has the advantage of costs. The logistics involved are much less expensive than those of physical voting, both in money and time. The money saved could be reinvested in other projects.
However, it remains to convince the different political actors, mainly the parties. Their arguments would consist in pleading against the exploitation of electronic voting to influence the results of the elections, either by the public authorities or by the companies providing access to the vote. The solution to each problem is the creation of an independent election management commission with exclusive access to the servers and systems dedicated to voting. At this point, it seems that we have covered all the bases. If digitization is inevitable, then sooner or later electoral processes will be affected.
The transformation has already started in several countries around the world, and given the direction that Morocco wants to take with digitization, we should sooner or later be able to vote without leaving home, which even with the health crisis coming to a close, would still be ideal.