Ukraine: The risks of rushing to internet voting | Serhii Savelii and Meredith Applegate/Atlantic Council
Ukraine’s public governance system is in dire need of transformation and President Zelenskyy has identified digitization as the best route towards greater accessibility and accountability. “Our goal is to make sure that all relations with the state can be carried out with the help of a regular smartphone and the internet,” commented Zelenskyy during the presentation of the government’s Diia mobile application in February 2020. However, a promised move towards internet voting for Ukrainian elections may be premature for the country’s fledgling democracy. Ukraine’s vision for digital transformation is ambitious and includes holding online voting for all elections and referendums. This aspiration to bring Ukraine’s public governance into the digital age should be applauded, but there are number of serious obstacles that must be taken into account when considering internet voting. Premature implementation of online voting could potentially have dire consequences for Ukraine’s democratic development, political stability, and electoral integrity. While the use of the internet for remote voting has considerable future potential, it is a new approach that has only been successfully implemented in very few cases and with limited scope. These cases all need to be considered before implementing wide-scale internet voting in Ukraine in order to learn crucial lessons, compare contexts, and realistically evaluate if it is an appropriate step forward for the country.