Introduction and use of information technology in elections (Warsaw, Poland)
Members of the Association of Central and Eastern European Elections Officials, gathered at the 9th annual conference held in June, 2000, in Warsaw, Poland.
In view of the fact that strengthening free, honest and transparent electoral processes as well as the universal and confidential nature thereof constitutes a special duty of elections officicials, in acceptance of the fact that each voter has the right to freely participate in elections and express his will on the basis of the access to information within the electoral process, in acceptance of the need to improve the management of the electoral process and to enhance the effectiveness of actions undertaken by elections officials and in consideration of the fact that spreading information technologies, in particular the Internet, offer completely new opportunities in the area of electoral procedures, the following statements were adopted.
1. All the applications of information technology need to be adequately legitimised by the electoral law and precise by-laws thereto. As far as practicable, the regulations should be clear and comprehensible to the electoral bodies responsible for their implementation, to political parties and organisations involved in the election process, as well as the citizens.
2. Information technology used for electoral purposes should be introduced gradually, thus gaining the confidence of both election officials and voters. In particular, this approach shall apply to the act of voting, in view of the necessity to ensure its confidentiality and establish, beyond all doubt, voters' identity. Elements that need to be taken into account include tradition, customs and habits, as well as the role of the citizen's actual presence at the electoral office, in the context of the political and civic life.
3. Access to information, as well as the free flow of electoral data, including personal information on candidates to representatives bodies shall be ensured, in conformity to the relevant domestic legislation intended to safeguard the confidentiality of personal life, while maintaining accessibility of information on the activities of public bodies and persons seeking to hold public functions.
4. It is necessary to ensure that the persons and entities implementing information technology solutions should remain fully responsible for the protection and integrity of data and electoral procedures. Consequently, it shall be necessary to develop procedures used in order to verify and validate the functioning of IT tools and methods in view of the goals they are intended to serve. At the same time, legal procedures should ensure civic and institutional control over the collecting and processing electoral data, in particular electoral results.