Although he brought success to his once-dying business, money is not the only thing driving Gao Haiyan. The young Chinese entrepreneur was moved by the sight of day laborers drawing rickshaws and being turned away at a local government office. Gao, 35, is now attempting to spread electronic voting systems to a populace long distrustful of politics. China remains governed under the one-party rule of the Communist Party and always ranks low on the Democracy Index, which measures the state of democracy in 167 countries. The Chinese government has not moved forward with political reform to realize free, democratic elections. But Gao, founder of a Shanghai-based company that develops and sells electronic voting systems using mark sense cards under the Quan Hui Tong brand, noted that many elections are held in China. “More than 100 million people are estimated to vote in residents’ committee elections each year across China,” he told a planning meeting of a major appliance maker.
Only four corporations, including Gao’s firm, handle electronic voting systems in China. … Voting and tallying at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, such as ones held in the Communist Party’s National Congress or the National People’s Congress, use voting systems of a government-affiliated maker.
… “Chinese voters tend to trust the accuracy of machines more than the counting by the electoral commission,” Gao said. But because it is also possible to rig elections through vote-counting machines, Gao founded the China Election Technology Research Center to call for the establishment of independent election inspection bodies.
Gao is currently dreaming of mass-producing his voting systems and leasing them to residents’ committees across the country.
“I hope many people have the actual feeling that their votes have become the people’s ‘voice,’ ” he said.